Council to Discuss Success of Plastic Bag Ban, New Fire Engines

That single-use plastic bag ban worked. The city enacted the 10-cent charge and San Jose’s shoppers adapted accordingly, bringing their own reusable bags instead of opting for single-use recycled paper bags, according to city staff. It’s a good thing, too, because that good behavior is pushing the city to consider canceling a fee increase that would have come into effect Jan. 1, upping the price-per-paper bag to 25 cents.

“The bag regulations have modified shoppers’ behaviors, as intended, resulting in a reduction in single-use plastic bag little in city creeks and streets, reducing waste and improving recycling operations,” Director of Environmental Services Kerrie Romanow writes in a memo. “Since the anticipated surge in demand for single-use paper bags did not materialize and observations indicate increasing use of reusable bags, staff believes the scheduled increase in the minimum charge for a recycled content paper bag is not necessary at this time to continue the positive trend away from single-use bags.”

More from the San Jose City Council agenda for September 24, 2013:

San Jose will pay $4.95 million to a man shot 20 times by police after they found him dressed up as a surgeon for Halloween, armed with a toy gun and pass-out drunk in a hotel stairwell.

• Two 1,500-gallon-a-minute fire engines will cost the city about $1.3 million. The new ones will replace a couple older engines, one 17 years old and the other 18.

• The School of Arts and Culture will get $450,000 a year for the next five to run programs from the Mexican Heritage Plaza. It’ll get $425,000 annually from year six and onward.

• Fees to develop big office projects in north San Jose may get a lot cheaper–as long as there’s a tenant lined up. The plan, proposed by Mayor Chuck Reed, would lower traffic impact fees from the already-discounted $5 per square foot to just $2 per. The regular fee is $13.50. The proposal would also up the square footage allowed to 4 million square feet.

WHAT: City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. 2 Fire Engines at 1.3 million dollars, divided by 2, then divided by 17.5 years of service time equals about $37,000 per year.  Each fire engine will save multiple times that value in fire losses each year and will serve to keep fire insurance premiums in check.  And with how thinly staffed the San Jose Fire Department is, we had better give firefighters the best equipment available.  It’s a no-brainer.

  2. > The Mexican Heritage Plaza, as it was from its inception and up to this date, is an ongoing, grotesque waste of taxpayer monies that should be shuttered and sold to the private sector.

    You are correct.

    Taking a page from Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals”, I invite you to put on your radical hat for a moment, and help the public focus on and “freeze” the malefactors.

    Would you provide the names of five politicians who you regard as most to blame for the MHP “ongoing, grotesque waste of taxpayer monies.”

  3. > That single-use plastic bag ban worked.

    It was a political activist success but a public policy failure.

    Radical leftwing groups like ( are passing bag bans up and down the state basically just to show that they can.

    > “The bag regulations have modified shoppers’ behaviors, as intended,. . . “

    Yup.  That’s what it was all about.  Radical activists poking the body politic just to see it twitch.

    Oh.  And if you doubt that the big budget activist group with the sunny, healthful, and elemental name is a bunch or radicals, just look at their cast of characters:.

    Robert Wendelgass, President & CEO

    “Wendelgass has been an activist for over 35 years, starting work while a college student during the Watergate era for the Committee to Impeach the President.”

    Kathy Aterno, National Managing Director – Florida and Colorado

    “Aterno worked on Capitol Hill as Chief of Staff for former Congressman David Bonior (D-MI) …  During the first term of the Clinton Administration, Aterno worked for the EPA Administrator Carol Browner.”

    That would be the far leftwing David Bonior and the far leftwing Carol Browner, who gave you “global warming”.

    Caroline Slobodzian, Major Gifts Officer

    “She is on the board of US National Committee for United Nations Women (the gender arm of the UN)”

    The plastic bag ban is not about “saving the environment”, it’s about scaring the pants off of people and conditioning than to accept any stupid or preposterous apocalyptic claim.

    One of the most ridiculous and bizarre claims is the infamous “floating plastic island”.

    Here is an assertion made by a Los Gatos resident to the Los Gatos Council staff relating to that city’s proposed ban on plastic bags:

    “There is a floating island of plastic trash the size of Texas in the Pacific Ocean, north of Hawaii. It has been named the Great Garbage Patch.”

    Stuart Wisong
    Los Gatos Author

    I looked on the internet for some evidence of the “floating island of plastic trash the size of Texas”.

    All I found were some videos of white trust fund children out on the ocean sailing their expensive yachts and scooping up tiny bits of plastic the size of pencil points.  No floating islands, but the activists all seemed to be having a good time, developing good tans, and feeling really good about themselves.

  4. I went to Smart and Final, bought 1000 real plastic bags and use them at every store I shop at in San Jose. I recycle every one of them. ESD and council are a bunch of idiots!

  5. In regards to new apparatus for SJFD, some of my former colleagues might not be too happy with this assessment, but its time we started telling the truth about why costs are so high in regards to apparatus. The problem is that a select committee of firefighters put the spec’s together for new engines and trucks that cost the city much more than necessary.  In order to save money, if SJFD went with a cookie cutter Type I engine, the cost would be significantly less instead of all the fancy bells and whistles that are always spec’d out on these rigs. Lastly, the reason there are so many miles on these half-a-million dollar engines is because they run on every EMS call in the city, a move that began in the early 90’s when the SJFD decided to run a paramedic on every engine and truck company.  So now instead of two firefighters showing up to a medical call like it once was, now you have four, a Captain, Engineer, Paramedic, and a firefighter and if you count the AMR paramedic and EMT on the ambulance that will arrive on scene as well, now you six emergency personnel for most likely someone with no more of a emergency that a fever because of the flu. These are the polices that must change if SJFD is to survive in the future.  its too bad, but SJFD once had an opportunity to run ambulances on these calls instead of engines, but due to politics between the city and the County of Santa Clara who is the administrative authority for the EMS system, that was quashed.  Instead what we got was a couple of ambulances spread out throughout the city that mostly just sat in the apparatus bays because of the restrictions on the calls they could run on so as not to conflict with the private ambulance company’s ability to charge patients. In my opinion, there is absolutely no reason to continuing running these engines in the ground this way and therefore SJFD must come up with a more cost effective way to deliver EMS to its citizens.

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