Bagging the Ban
A threatened lawsuit is prompting the town of Fairfax to set aside—at least temporarily—its plans to completely ban plastic shopping bags. In July, the Fairfax Town Council unanimously approved banishing the ubiquitous bags from grocery stores, restaurants and shops. The law was supposed to go into effect Feb. 10, but instead the council is making the ordinance voluntary rather than mandatory. Representatives of plastics manufacturers argued the ban would increase the use of paper bags, and threatened to go to court to force Fairfax to pay for an environmental impact report. "It would take probably $50,000 to fight this," says Fairfax town manager Linda Kelly. Instead, activists hope to put a plastic bag ban on the local ballot, possibly as early as November 2008.
Want to name a community center for your Aunt Bertha or television host Stephen Colbert? Ten eBay auctions will give the highest bidders naming rights for seven parks, two trails and a community center, all part of the 274-unit Quarry Heights subdivision slated to be built on an old rock quarry at the southern edge of Petaluma. The money raised will be used to improve restrooms and concession stands at the Petaluma and Casa Grande high school stadiums. Developer KB Homes teamed with Petaluma City Schools to create the eBay auctions which end Friday, Nov. 16, at 8pm. (Details are online at www.namepetalumaparks.com.) "We're trying our best to get the word out about this unique opportunity," says schools superintendent Greta Viguie. Anyone can bid, but a committee has final approval of the names, which can't be offensive or related to alcohol, tobacco or drugs.
Too Short for Wi-Fi
A deal to have AT&T invest more than $1 million to create a free wireless Internet service inside Napa's city limits was announced with great fanfare last February, but the plans got nipped because most of Napa's utility poles are only 30 feet high. The California Public Utility Commission enacted new regulations creating a safety zone around high voltage power wires. Since nothing can be hung from the bottom 16 feet of a utility pole, in Napa that leaves only 14 feet for two high-voltage lines, not enough room to squeeze in WiFi antennas, making the wireless program impossible, says Barry Martin, Napa's community outreach coordinator. Fortunately, he adds, the city didn't spend any money on this project.