Council hears girl’s plea to ban single-use plastics, honors legislators, approves critical areas ordinance

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Mountlake Terrace resident Emily Francisco, with mom Vonita at right, making her pitch to the Mountlake Terrace City Council.

Mountlake Terrace resident Emily Francisco has been making the rounds of local elected officials, asking them to consider a ban on plastic bags and single-use plastic items like straws and cutlery.

And at age 8, she is getting their attention.

“I know that it’s not easy, but we can do it,” she told the Mountlake Terrace City Council during its Monday, June 18 business meeting.

This is the third appearance in a week for the Terrace Park Elementary student and Brownie Girl Scout. On June 12, she made her pitch to the Edmonds School District Board of Directors. And on June 13, she raised the same issue during the Mountlake Terrace Coffee with the City event, drawing an invitation from City Manager Scott Hugill to speak to the entire city council.

Emily Francisco with a copy of the National Geographic magazine that profiled the effects of single-use plastic on the planet. She shared photos from that magazine article — including one of a seabird wrapped in a plastic bag — as part of her council presentation.

“Plastic can be helpful, like reusable coffee cups and cutting boards,” Emily said. “But a lot of plastic isn’t disposed properly. Only 6 percent of plastic that can be recycled, is. Garbages are filling up too quickly and plastic winds up in the ocean, killing marine life.”

Emily said she was inspired by 17-year-old Girl Scout Shelby O’Neil, who created Jr Ocean Guardians for her 2017 Girl Scout USA Gold Award Project. As a result of Shelby’s efforts, Alaska Airlines eliminated single-use plastic straws and stir sticks from its flights.

The 8-year-old has been doing her research. She has interviewed businesses in the city of Edmonds, which already bans plastic bags and is phasing in a citywide ban on straws, stirrers and cutlery. She has also talked with four businesses so far in the city of Mountlake Terrace, noting that “I’m still in school and it’s a busy month.”

The three biggest employers in Mountlake Terrace are Premera, the school district and the city, Emily said. She noted that she has already met with Megan de Vries, the school district’s director of food services, “and I think she agrees with me on this problem.” As for Premera, “I have a family friend who is a vice president…He’s been helping me make a connection there.”

Following the presentation, Councilmember Doug McCardle requested that the city council in a future agenda item examine how the city could reduce its use of plastic, “as well as begin looking at what it means if we were to ban single-use plastic within the city.”

Councilmember Bryan Wahl also suggested that the council review the city’s sustainability strategy to see if this issue could be addressed.

Mountlake Terrace City Councilmembers thank state legislators for their support. From left: Councilmembers Seaun Richards, Bryan Wahl and Kyoko Matsumoto Wright; Mayor Jerry Smith; State Rep. Derek Stanford and Sen. Guy Palumbo; and Councilmembers Laura Sonmore and Doug McCardle.

Also during Monday night’s meeting, the council honored three state legislators for their “tireless efforts” to secure funding for the Main Street Project and Ballinger Park. State Sen. Guy Palumbo and Rep. Derek Stanford, both 1st District Democrats, were on hand to present a symbolic check to the city for $860,000, which represents partial state funding for the Main Street Project. (State Rep. Shelley Kloba was unable to attend due to a prior commitment.)

In other action, the council:

– Approved by a 6-0 vote (Councilmember Rick Ryan absent) adoption of the city’s Critical Areas Regulations. City staff reiterated that they are committed to conducting public outreach to educate homeowners about the new ordinance, which includes fines for cutting down trees on their property if the trees are located in a critical area. See more in our earlier story here.

– Approved an interlocal agreement with the Edmonds School District to share funding for a school resource officer at Mountlake Terrace High School, starting in the fall.

– Recognized the Mountlake Terrace High School baseball team for its athletic and academic accomplishments, along with the work of other high school clubs and organizations. See related story and photos here.

– Approved a contract with Murray Smith & Associates, for an amount not to exceed $55,000, to conduct a water rate study for the city.

– Appointed the following residents to the city’s planning and arts commissions: Marla French, Arts Advisory Commission (three-year term expiring June 30, 2021); Anthony Carr, Planning Commission (four-year term expiring June 30, 2022); Logan Galyan, Planning Commission (four-year term expiring June 30, 2022); Arthur Robertson, Planning Commission (four-year term expiring June 30, 2022) and Mike Wicklander, Planning Commission (four-year term expiring June 30, 2022).

— Story and photos by Teresa Wippel

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