UPDATE 9:58am | The Long Beach City Council last night approved the drafting of an ordinance banning plastic bags at citywide stores, 6-2 (Neal and Gabelich dissenting, Schipske absent). The ordinance will be based on one recently passed by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, and will be brought back to the City Council for revision in January.
10:16am Tuesday | The Long Beach City Council will draw the eyes of surrounding cities and counties tonight when it decides whether or not to move forward with an effort to ban plastic bags.
The item, proposed by Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal and backed by 1st District Councilmember Robert Garcia and 3rd District Councilmember Gary DeLong, would direct the City Manager to draft an ordinance similar to the one recently passed in Los Angeles County. It would ban plastic carryout bags at supermarkets and grocery stores while imposing a 10-cent charge to customers who use paper bags - clearly an attempt to steer people toward reusable, usually canvas, bags.
There would be an exemption for customers involved in either the Supplemental Food Program or the California Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants and Children.
Large stores would have to comply with the ordinance by July 1, 2011 while all others must comply by January 1, 2012.
If the motion is approved tonight, the City Manager will draft the ordinance and bring it back to the City Council for final approval before it is implemented. The City Manager would also be directed to develop a public education campaign with a website and hotline for businesses and residents.
At least one councilmember has differing views on the way a ban should be handled, as 5th District Councilmember Gerrie Schipske writes in a recent blog that she supports a ban similar to the one in San Francisco, a more gradual process of "moving away from plastic bags to compostable bags without any tax or fee passed along to the consumer for this switch." She also proposes that City Hall stop using bottled water and plastic bags, while the Convention Center should stop using plastic cups, plates, forks and spoons "if my colleagues really want to deal with the growing pollution from plastic."
Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe supports plastic bag bans, but also says there are better ways to do it.
“While I support the elimination of single-use bags, if there is going to be a ban, I believe it should be done at a statewide level, as the Board previously supported in AB 1998," Knabe says. "Rather than being punitive, we should provide incentives to encourage businesses to develop creative, green solutions, and therefore jobs, to our environmental challenges.”
Opponents of the ban say that the associated costs would hurt local businesses. Former Long Beach Post columnist Dennis Smith has some thoughts along these lines in his recent blog. Current columnist Greggory Moore expressed his views on the subject in this recent column.
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Disclosure: Shaun Lumachi is under contract with the Office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe.