|RP jumps on county plastic bag ban wagon
Santa Rosa also bans bags with its own plan
Sonoma County’s decade-long War on Plastic Bags signed up another ally when Rohnert Park’s City Council decided to join the rest of the county (except Santa Rosa) by banning single-use plastic bags as a packaging method. Instead, stores will offer paper bags at 10 cents a bag or else you’ll have to bring in your own cloth or paper bag, with or without handles.
The purpose of the new rule is to see every shopper bring their own bag and wipe out the plastic bag blight causing litter problems and gumming up recycling procedures.
The Cotati City Council on Sept. 11 voted 4-0 to join the ban on plastic bags cause.
This is a project of the Sonoma County Waste Management Association (SCWMA), represented by Patrick Carter, and Public Works Department Director John McArthur, who had a staff report listing all the options the city has. Both men recommended option No. 1 that had the council voting yes on the regional bag ban, participate in the SCWMA program and having them enforce it. The other three options McArthur outlined were yes and no mixes, and a total rejection posture with a negative vote.
Naturally, there are exceptions to the total ban. Restaurants, thrift stores, prescriptions from drug stores and plastic bags inside paper bags containing ingredients which might harm if mixed with other contents are OK.
Rohnert Park’s approval made Santa Rosa the only entity left in SCWMA’s roster which still hasn’t signed up. Their city council was discussing the issue at the same time RP’s council was.
Carter told the council the best result would be unanimous approvals countywide.
Santa Rosa at its council meeting on Tuesday voted 4-3 to pass its own ban that would be identical to the county ban. The difference is Santa Rosa’s ban would be controlled and enforced locally.
The spectacle of one city approving the ban and the nearby one rejecting it was one SCWMA dreaded.
He told the council, “the major grocery chains in the county (like Safeway and Raley’s) want uniformity on plastic bags,”
Support for the council’s choice came from Jon Sauers, a Cotati resident who works for RP Disposal, the garbage removal company. “Our company supports the ban. It costs us money just getting rid of plastic bags in recycled paper bundles.”
RP resident Allen Friedman praised the council for its choice. So did Jessica Jones of the Sonoma County branch of the Sierra Club.
Vice-Mayor Amy Ahanotu wondered why restaurants were exempt from the ban. Carter replied, “Because the rule is under litigation in San Francisco,”
Councilwoman Pam Stafford said, “The ban seems inevitable and I‘m in favor of option one.”
Councilman Jake Mackenzie said, “We’ve arrived at a better place with option one. I place a great value in regional consistency.”
Councilwoman Gina Belforte said, “I’m very much in favor of option one.”
Mayor Joe Callinan said, “You (Carter) have answered all our questions. I feel very comfortable with option one.”
No vote was taken but city staff just wanted “direction” from the council. They got it, unanimously.
The SCWMA proposed ordinance still has other hearings, and the plastic bag ban will probably go into effect in June 2014.