The Newport City Council, after a long drawn-out discussion about single-use plastic shopping bags, took the first step Monday night to enact what may become a ban on them. Not all of them – just most of them.
Countries around the world are “getting it” that single use plastic bags are literally clogging our oceans with microplastics as they decay. There are huge plastic bag and other debris patches in our oceans and scientists say they’re killing everything from seagulls to seals, fish to brown pelicans. And recent scientific studies are revealing that decomposed microplastics are showing up in our drinking water. So no longer is Climate Change the only clear and present danger to human health.
The Newport City Council heard from a number of Central Coast families and older folks as well, that the right thing to do for humanity around the world is to stop using throw away plastic bags – that people should buy re-useable bags like fiber-cloth bags. Olsters and youngsters told the council that the right thing to do is to stop polluting our rivers and oceans with plastics. But a few area residents disagreed claiming that plastic bags would work just fine if people were more responsible and disposed of them properly. That opinion was in the distinct minority.
After further discussion the council decided to hold a council workshop, strictly among the councilors, to determine how and when to enact a ban on single-use shopping bags. City Councilor David Allen and Mayor Dean Sawyer suggested they ask Newport voters to again express their preference – the last vote to ban the bags went down to defeat several years ago. But this time, a majority of the council decided that further discussion on March 18th would refine the ban program and leave it to the city council to make the final ruling – not the voters. It was pointed out that other Oregon cities have outlawed the bags and it’s working fine for them – Portland, Salem, McMinnville and others.
So the plan is to get the bag ban ordinance written up at a council work session scheduled for March 13th, 3pm at City Hall (no further public input). Then conduct a wide-open public hearing on the final proposal on April 15th, at 6pm at City Hall.
On another topic – ambulance service – Newport Fire Chief Rob Murphy reported to the City Council that calls for ambulance service have risen dramatically over the past five years or so, which is putting quite a strain on Newport Firefighters and more wear-and-tear on fire engines. PacWest Ambulance paramedics are usually the first out the door, but the emergency protocol usually involves a Newport fire engine crew to meet up with them on scene in case it takes more than one ambulance crew to load the patient into the ambulance. But Chief Murphy says there are many times that PacWest gets on scene and they don’t need any help. So for the firefighters it’s a wasted trip. Then suddenly another call comes in and it’s a bad traffic crash, a house fire or serious injury and it’s clear across town creating a terrible delay in firefighters getting to a true emergency.
Chief Murphy said he and his fellow PacWest first responders would like to set up a system where the fire department would not automatically rush to an emergency unless PacWest says the fire department is really needed or if 9-1-1 dispatchers say it’s an obvious serious injury or life threatening call.
The City Council generally agreed that their fire department rolling on every 9-1-1 call needs to be re-evaluated to see if a fully staffed fire truck is really needed. And the council also wanted to have specific criteria for “go” or “don’t go” more clearly explained.