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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on July 22nd, 2015, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 16, Issue 20 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 16, Issue 20

Santa Barbara County bans plastic bags


The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 for a single-use plastic bag ban in unincorporated areas of the county during its meeting on July 21.

It’s an issue that’s gotten some play at the state level. Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a statewide single-use bag ban already, Senate Bill 270, but the rollout is delayed until an initiative hits the 2016 ballot.

Supervisors Steve Lavagnino (5th District) and Peter Adam (4th District) said they weren’t comfortable with the idea of getting out in front of the statewide referendum, and the discussion of the ban quickly devolved into a perceived difference in the values of North and South County.

Adam, scowling through his moustache, said, “It’s nice that South County supervisors want to save the world, but they should save their own world first,” he said. “Every communication that I’ve had on it from my constituents says don’t bag the bags.”

Supervisor Salud Carbajal countered, “All of San Luis Obispo [County] has agreed, despite their regional diversity, that this is the way to go.”

Joe Armendariz, representing the Santa Barbara County Taxpayer’s Association, cast his lot with Adam and Lavagnino.

“It’s the height of arrogance,” he railed. “The collective wisdom of the body politic is always better than a small cartel.”

The ban only applies in unincorporated areas of the county. It doesn’t include all plastic bags and it doesn’t include all stores. Bags for prescriptions, for example, are exempted, as are the plastic bags that you put produce in at the supermarkets. Similarly, restaurants, beer and wine tasting rooms, and certain retail stores are exempted.

In short, it’s narrowly focused on checkout lines at grocery stores: 40-odd businesses would be affected by this ordinance, including eight large retail stores.

Kira Redmond with Santa Barbara Channelkeeper pointed out that recycling programs for plastic bags have shown only 5 percent of those bags getting recycled. Moreover, plastic bags don’t biodegrade—they break up into smaller and smaller pieces, she said, and can be ingested by animals.

Laura Peralta with the California Grocers’ Association also supported the ban. Encouraging reusable bags without banning single-use plastic bags, she pointed out, has been very expensive for grocery stores—customers tend to use reusable bags only once, and the expenses are passed on to the store.

Ultimately, Adam moved to exempt the 4th and 5th districts. “We don’t appreciate having those values inflicted upon us up in the North,” he said.

Lavagnino seconded, with a clause that they wait until the 2016 election for implementation.

“Equal protection under the law,” Carbajal murmured into the microphone as Lavagnino finished his thoughts. County counsel found the motion legally murky, however, so it was withdrawn.

Weekly Poll
What do you think about a farmworker resource center in Santa Barbara County?

It's a great way to create a network of collaboration and reach people in need.
It's been needed in the county for a long time and should have been made earlier.
We don't have the funding now, but we should come up with ideas in the meantime.
We don't need it. There are plenty of resources readily available.

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