SF bans water bottles

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San Francisco continues to lead the way in the nation's environmental policy, with the Board of Supervisors on March 4 voting unanimously to bar the city from buying plastic water bottles and to ban distribution of plastic water bottles smaller than 21 ounces on city property starting Oct. 1. The ban excludes city marathons and other sporting events.

"We all know with climate change, and the importance of combating climate change, San Francisco has been leading the way to fight for our environment," Board President David Chiu, who authored the legislation, said at the hearing. "That's why I ask you to support this ordinance to reduce and discourage single-use, single-serving plastic water bottles in San Francisco."

Chiu held up a water bottle at the board meeting, a quarter of the way full with oil, to illustrate how much oil is used in the production and transport of plastic water bottles. He also reminded San Franciscans that the current fad of buying bottled water only started in the 1990s when the bottled water industry mounted a huge ad campaign that got Americans buying bottled water.

Somehow, Chiu noted, "for centuries, everybody managed to stay hydrated." (Francisco Alvarado)

Mass action against Keystone XL

Nine environmental activists were arrested in San Francisco for marching through the financial district and entering One Spear Tower on March 3, the building that houses local offices of the State Department, to express opposition to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

A day earlier, a mass protest against the oil pipeline was staged outside the White House in Washington, D.C. Roughly 200 protesters were arrested after using plastic zip ties to lock themselves to the White House fence.

Meanwhile, thousands more have made a vow — at least in the sense of clicking to add their name to a petition — to engage in peaceful civil disobedience if President Barack Obama grants ultimate approval for the oil infrastructure project, which would transport 830,000 barrels of crude oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast.

Nonprofit Credo Action has created an online petition urging people to get ready to respond with peaceful civil disobedience if the pipeline wins final approval. (Rebecca Bowe)

City weighs lawsuit over Airbnb

The San Francisco City Attorney's Office is finally preparing to take action against the illegal short-term housing rentals facilitated by Airbnb, something we've been hearing that the Examiner also reported on March 6 ("SF landlords could face legal fight over rentals on Airbnb, other services"), an action that would address the company's apparent stall tactics.

Despite a business model that violates a variety of San Francisco laws — most notably zoning, planning, and tenant regulations — and Airbnb's flagrant flouting of a two-year-old city ruling that it should be collecting and paying the city's transient occupancy tax (see "Into thin air," Aug.

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