➤ “Will park protections unleash canine calamity?” The City, Sunday
Parks should be protected
Joel Engardio is well off-base with his screed about parks. A few facts:
1. There is no U.S. National Park Service unit called an “urban recreation area.” The Golden Gate National Recreation Area is a national park in an urban area.
2. San Francisco gave its parks to the GGNRA irrevocably. Period.
3. No one is trying to apply backcountry rules to these parks; the Park Service’s prime responsibility is to protect the parks’ resources for all users. Resources include birds and plants.
4. The GGNRA is one of 401 units of the Park Service, and no matter what the name of the park, they are all bound by the same regulations. These regulations only permit dogs on a leash, and only in restricted areas.
5. The Park Service is trying to work out a special regulation for the GGNRA which would give dogs more freedom than in other national parks in the few places that will not be damaged by them. That is because NPS managers realize San Francisco’s canines had places to romp off-leash in the past. But not everywhere.
6. The only legal alternative to a special regulation is to apply the national regulations and require leashing of all dogs all the time in the areas where they are allowed.
Our national parks are not under local management, nor should they be.
➤ Plastic bag regulations
State can do more on bags
Plastic grocery bag waste in streets, parks and waterways is an obvious problem. Less obvious is the more than $350 million Californians pay every year in higher grocery costs and taxes for this one-time-use problem product.
In 2006, I authored legislation to try to address the problem through recycling. My Assembly Bill 2449 established the requirement that every grocery store take bags back for recycling. In order to work, the plastic bag makers promised to promote the program and finance the infrastructure to ensure collected bags were recycled. While overall California leads the nation in recycling everything from beverage containers to computer monitors, disappointingly, the plastic bag remains a recycling failure.
While less than 5 percent of plastic bags are being recycled, the number of plastic bags distributed in California is down from a peak of 30 billion bags in 2005 to “only” about 13 billion today. This successful ‘source reduction’ is the result of some 87 California cities and counties passing ordinances to phase out plastic grocery bags, as well as individual consumer bringing their own bags.
It’s time for the legislature to follow the successful example of local governments and phase out plastic grocery bags statewide.
➤ Cutting back DUIs
Make Muni free on holidays
On Halloween, as I was heading downtown to partake in the festivities, I noticed an abnormal amount of fare inspectors on the trains. Is it just me, or is this a terrible idea?
Of course there are going to be people dodging toll on holidays like Halloween, but isn’t The City sending the wrong message here? Rather than driving, these people are making a responsible choice to take the bus. The only people who looked like they were getting fined were drunk young people.
I talked to a police officer and asked him what he thought. He said there should never be free service, even on nights like New Year’s Eve. I’d think The City would rather have a few drunk kids get away without paying their fare rather than driving and potentially smashing trick-or-treaters.