Coffee induced accidents spur uproar
SEATTLE, Washington: Coffee isn't the best part of waking up, according to a group of Seattle residents. In fact, a proposed Seattle Coffee Ban Amendment is working it's way to the November 2011 local ballot in the State of Washington.
The measure would ban the construction and operation of additional coffee shops in the city. According to city officials, coffee may be the leading cause of morning fender benders and thus untold dollars in lost productivity due to jittery employees racing against the clock to make it on time to their respective jobs.
The group advocating for the measure is the No Beans About It Policy Project. According to group leader Jacob A. Brown, "It's like someone creates these monsters in the morning that cause backed up traffic, which could subsequently lead to thousands of dollars in car damage. With the times we are in right now, and gas prices skyrocketing, many people can't afford to shell out a thousand here or there to fix their cars. Coffee is becoming an avenue for disaster!"
A version of the proposal is currently being considered by the city council. However, the city council's version is not as stringent as the proposal that the coffee-ban petitioners are circulating. This has led some of the hard-line coffee-shop banners to claim that the city council is trying to circumvent voter anger over the city's problems with coffee by offering an allegedly watered-down proposal. "They're only going after double lattes and iced frappucinos, when the real problem 90% of the time is with the basic daily grind," according to a group of petitioners collecting signatures at Pike's Market.
The measure is similar to a previous effort that fell short in 2009 in San Angelo, Texas, where residents sought to ban barbecue tailgating in high school football stadiums, with advocates stating that the traffic in the parking lots not only caused minor accidents, but made fans late for the start of kickoffs. Also, in the 1920's some residents of Vermont pleaded with the state legislature to ban maple syrup consumption and sales as part of the prohibition movement, citing that sugar crashes were similar to effects that alcohol had on the human body and caused a drop in work production.
Supporters and No Beans About It Policy Project have been circulating their petition since late 2010 and have held numerous rallies. According to the latest reports, they've raised a staggering $497,565 as of April 1, 2011. Supporters have held rallies nearly every Monday, on what they call a record day for coffee related car accidents. According to reports, Monday is in fact the number one day for coffee sales.
Among supporters of the proposed bill are managers of local businesses, who argue that in today's struggling economic climate, they should no longer be expected to support the growing problem of employee tardiness said to be related to morning coffee acquisition. Protesters marched with signs that said, "Enough with the coffee, get back to work!," "Fender Benders no more!" or "Coffee is an avenue for disaster!"
Supporters aren't the only ones marching up and down the streets of Seattle. Opponents, too, have held numerous rallies. Opponents argue:
- They have a right to drink their caffeine beverages on their way to work.
- Concerns about coffee-related car accidents can and should be addressed by appropriate insurance coverage, not by denying their coffee-related rights.
- Some opponents have suggested that the coffee merchants in nearby cities are secretly funding the proposed ban as a way to increase their own sales.
On March 29, opponents ran around the city's municipal buildings holding signs and travel mugs with coffee in their other hand. To raise funds for their campaign, they have posted coffee stands and sold coffee to local residents.
City council perplexed
Under the terms of the proposal that city council members are said to be reviewing, coffee shops would not be immediately banned. Rather, the rate of new construction of coffee shops would be reduced so that by 2015, no new building permits for coffee shops would be granted. In addition, the cost of a coffee-shop building permit would increase by 35% a year in 2012 and 2013, and then by 57% a year in 2014 prior to the total ban in 2015.
At the same time, a spokesperson for the city council indicated that they are in talks with sponsors of the Total Coffee Shop Ban Initiative and hope to have a consensus by the end of the day.