Los Angeles became the largest city in the country Wednesday to approve a ban on plastic bags at supermarkets, handing a major victory to clean-water advocates who sought to reduce the amount of trash clogging landfills, the region’s waterways and the ocean.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the City Council voted 13 to 1 to phase out plastic bags over the next 12 months at an estimated 7,500 stores. Councilman Bernard Parks cast the only “no” vote.
Culver City Councilwoman Meghan Sahli-Wells enthused, “I’m thrilled! It’s been a long time coming and I’m looking forward to bringing this to our city council as soon as we can.”
Noting the current political situation she observed, “During the recent council race, all three of my colleagues expressed support for a local ban, and four of us were also endorsed by the Los Angeles League of Conservation Voters.”
Mayor Andy Weissman held that it will only be a matter of time before Culver City follows suit. “At City Council direction, the City Attorney’s office has been drafting an ordinance to prohibit single use plastic bags in Culver City. That work is ongoing. We want to be certain that any ordinance we bring forth has satisfactory environmental review and that our regulations have appropriate environmental support. We want an ordinance that is both environmentally meaningful and legally sound. I am pleased that today’s action by the Los Angeles City Council starts Los Angeles down the same environmental and ordinance drafting path that Culver City has been pursuing for over a year.”
Weissman added,” I would expect that a proposed ordinance for Culver City will come up for discussion and consideration before the end of summer.”
Culver City Councilman Jeff Cooper added his support, saying “The council has been working with the community and city attorney for the past two years to bring an ordinance banning plastic bags . I look forward to this being brought before council very soon.”
Los Angeles council members quietly backed away from a more controversial plan to also ban use of paper grocery bags, which was first proposed by appointees of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
Wednesday’s vote kicks off a four-month environmental review of the bag ban, followed by passage of an ordinance putting it into effect. Larger stores would then have six months to phase out plastic bags and smaller markets a 12-month phase-out period. For paper bags, retailers would be required to charge 10 cents per bag starting one year after the plastic bag is enacted.
Councilman Paul Koretz, who pushed for the ban, said city officials would conduct a study in two years to determine whether the prohibition should be expanded to include paper. “My hope is that so few paper bags will be used as a result of this measure that the formal ban … on paper bags may not even be necessary,” he said.
The plan drew strong praise from environmental activists, who had long argued that L.A. needed to follow in the footsteps of San Jose, San Francisco and Long Beach and dozens of other municipalities.
“Plastic harms our environment. It is a threat to the coastal economy. It is a danger to marine life and it is an unconscionable burden to taxpayers who have to foot the bill for cleanups year after year,” said attorney H. David Nahai, a former top executive at the Department of Water and Power.
Environmentalists had tried unsuccessfully for four years to get the plastic bag ban through the council. But the proposal languished in a committee that handled environmental matters. In the meantime, dozens of other cities and counties up and down the state adopted similar bans.
Los Angeles County’s 10-cent fee on paper bags has led to a 94% reduction in the use of those bags, said Jennie R. Romer, the founder of www.plasticbaglaws.org.
Think Culver City Should Ban the Bag ? Do you use plastic, paper or reusable grocery bags ?