Hood River City Council will review bag rules

Hood River City Council will consider issuing a proclamation declaring April 1-8 as Sexual Assault Awareness Week. This dovetails with a variety of events in schools and the community planned for early April.

The council meets Monday at City Hall, starting at 6 p.m.

Council will also hear a report from City Manager Steve Wheeler and Mayor Paul Blackburn about the new ordinance banning plastic bags at store counters in Hood River.

In late 2016, council enacted the plastic bag ban ordinance, to take effect March 1 at the city’s three largest stores — Rosauers, Safeway and Walmart — and at all other stores starting July 1. The ordinance allows plastic bags for use in produce, prescriptions and other needs, but disallows them at checkout. Customers are urged to bring their own carry-out bags, or pay a nickel or more (required under the ordinance) for a paper bag.

According to minutes of the March 13 council meeting, business owner Lisa Wiltse addressed council about her concerns regarding the new plastic bag regulations. Wiltse, owner of Gorge Dog on Oak Street, asked council to overturn the portion of the ordinance regarding the nickel bag requirement. She said she has to report the nickel collection as income and the accounting of counting bags will be a burden. She explained she made a $716 purchase of plastic bags in 2016. She will not use them all by the July 1, 2017, deadline. She noted if she replaces her current plastic bags to a paper paw print bag, the cost will be $3,770 and $850 for a plain flat paper bag or $1,260 for a printed flat bag.

Blackburn stated he has similar discussions with other downtown businesses. He said the city would be willing to work with businesses that need to use existing bags that were purchased before the bag ban ordinance was approved by council.

In other business:

Wheeler and Council Member Kate McBride will discuss a proposed 1 percent residential and commercial constriction excise tax. The tax program, created by an Oregon Senate bill last year, allows local governments to impose taxes on new development via building permits, with revenue destined to fund affordable housing initiatives. McBride serves on a local ad hoc committee studying the excise tax program

The hearing on Morrison Park zone change from Open Space/Public Facilities (OS/PF) to Urban High Density Residential (R-3) has been extended, due to a large amount of public testimony both in writing and at the Planning Commission hearing. The Planning Commission has continued their hearing process to April 17.

Sexual Assault Awareness Week proclamation

Here is the full text of the proclamation to be considered Monday by Hood River City Council:

WHEREAS, sexual assault is widespread and impacts every person in the community;

WHEREAS, rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment harm our community;

WHEREAS, child sexual abuse prevention must be a priority to confront the reality that 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls will experience a sexual assault before age 18;

WHEREAS, youth ages 12-17 are 2.5 times as likely to be victims of rape or sexual assault;

WHEREAS, community wide awareness is the first step toward preventing sexual assault;

Therefore we, the Hood River City Council, as part of the nationally recognized Sexual Assault Awareness Month (April) proclaim the week of April 2 – 8, 2017, Sexual Assault Awareness Week, (SAAW), knowing each day of the year is an opportunity to create change for the future. We join advocates and communities across the country in taking action to prevent sexual assault.

Hood River County Board of Commissioners adopted a similar resolution at their Monday meeting.

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