Delay on plastic bags, first step on new meeting times

bcc1_27As a barometer of the community, Bishop Visitors Bureau and Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tawni Thomson brought the Bishop City Council up to speed Monday night. She pointed to the unfortunate result of drought headlines for the Bishop area where water and lakes draw tourists.

Thomson said there were some negative headlines recently – apparently referring to business closures of Whiskey Creek, BBQ Bills and a dry cleaners. Drought is in the news too. Thomson said FOX news called her and planned to come up for a drought story. Said Thomson, I hope we can convey that while the drought is serious, it would be worse to report tourism is dead. She pointed to Pleasant Valley Reservoir and the Owens River as popular waterways even if the Bishop Creek lakes are dry again this year.

Thomson said the Bureau has received many calls about the closure of the Whiskey Creek restaurants. She said groups are looking for alternative meeting places. Thomson said her office is encouraged by all the contacts about plans for summer visits to the area.

The City Council themselves turned to the issue of whether or not to support Senate Bill 405 which would ban single-use plastic bags in California stores. City Administrator Keith Caldwell told them legislators are making changes in the bill. The Council decided to put off another vote. The last vote was a tie when just four Council members were present. Jerry Gabriel of the Bishop area argued to keep the familiar bags. He said it seemed kind of “heavy-handed” for legislators to tell us how to carry groceries.

The Council did vote to approve the first reading of an ordinance which would change the times they meet from 4pm for Study Sessions to 10am and from 7pm for regular meetings to 1pm. Councilwoman Laura Smith was the lone no vote. She said day time meetings would limit public participation and numbers of candidates for elections. The daytime meetings will save around $12,000 in overtime for staff who will already be on the job during the day. This issue comes back for a second reading at later meetings.

The Council approved a resolution which names Bishop as a HEAL City – Healthy Eating, Active Living. They okayed a contract with Mammoth Lakes Housing to monitor grants for first time homebuyer loans, and the Council agreed to lift the hiring freeze for the Police Chief to hire two new Level 2 Reserve Officers.

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