And the Big Issue in Town is….

Quick, name the biggest community issue that comes to mind.

Some of you probably thought ‘jobs’ or ‘good-paying jobs’ or ‘the economy.’ Those make sense. While things are going well in the Fort Collins region, we aren’t creating enough good paying jobs to meet demand. As I’ve mentioned in this space previously, we rank 7th in the nation in under-employment.

For others, “traffic congestion” was the first thing to pop into your heads. A logical subset of this one is “I-25 traffic.”

Still others of you might have thought “affordable housing.” Another good choice. The real estate markets for apartments and single-family residents is tight at the moment. In fact, we have some of the highest rents in the state. There are a lot of factors here, but city government’s 3-unrelated ordinance and costly development regulations are the biggest drivers.

The proposed on-campus Colorado State University stadium, MAX rapid bus transit, and the redevelopment of the mall probably made some of your lists.

So, what is the big issue? Banning plastic grocery bags, of course, silly! Well, at least according to our City Council. They approved an ordinance  on First Reading at their July 1 meeting to require grocers to charge a 10 cent ‘fee’ for single use plastic and paper bags beginning in January. The ordinance was up for final approval tonight on Second Reading but because of adverse feedback from citizens, the item has been rescheduled for August 19.

In the scheme of things, this is not a big economic issue for the community. Consequently, the Chamber doesn’t have a formal position on the issue. That said, a number of you have mentioned it to us as one more example of local government overreach and intrusion, a half-thought out, largely symbolic effort to help some people feel good about ‘saving the planet.’

Those sentiments make sense starting with the fact that so-called ‘single use’ bags are actually reused for various purposes in most of our homes. Then consider that studies have shown that plastic bags only account for 0.6 percent of the nation’s visual litter. In Fort Collins that number is probably even less. It’s a ‘solution’ in search of a problem.

Anyway, as a member service, if you want to weigh in on the issue with your Council Members, you can get in touch with the mayor, all city council members and the city manager by emailing them at [email protected].