SHOW UP: Paid Parking And Plastic Bag Ban Up For Discussion Tonight

Two hot-button issues are back on the table at tonight's Beach Commission meeting.

The first being paid parking, which almost every resident to publicly weigh in, has said they are against.

ABOVE: My 904 Rant/Rave poll, which out of more than 1,000 locals, finished with only 34 votes in favor of paid parking.

Tonight's meeting will touch on establishing metered parking zones.

ABOVE: Proposed zones

The commission also plans to discuss the plastic bag ban draft ordinance.

Jane West will be presenting her research on the issue to the commission, that is if there's enough time and public concern.

West says, "The ultimate goal here is to replace single-use, carryout bags with environmentally safer alternatives, such as recyclable, compostable, or reusable bags. Plastic bags are continually one of the most polluted items on our beaches. All too often we see them in parking lots, on the side of the road, in the dunes at the beach, on our playgrounds. Ceasing the distribution of these plastic bags will ensure their reduction and harmful impact on our natural resources. These bags pose a major threat to our precious marine life and wildlife as bird, turtles, fish, and other animals can become entangled in the bags or mistake them for food. Because plastic bags are so light-weight, they can easily be blown into the trees and dunes. Plastic debris, such as these bags, claim the lives of millions of birds and marine life each year."

She says that a decision on this issue sooner than later is critical, because, "This new legislature is intent on reducing home-town rule in Florida. By way of example, our very own Sen. Travis Hutson is sponsoring a bill to pre-empt local governments from banning plastic straws."

Opponents of the bag ban worry this may have a negative affect on small local merchants, especially with regard to cost, and others site lawsuits by groups like the Florida Retail Federation over a bag ban in Coral Gables. A judge did side with the city in that case, however the Florida Retail Federation was fighting to appeal that decision.

Regardless of where you stand on the matter, if you have an opinion, you'll want to make sure and be in attendance at St. Augustine Beach City Hall at 6:00pm tonight (Monday).

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