Oceanside joins the bag ban bandwagon

OCEANSIDE — After a failed attempt to pass a ban on single-use plastic bags in October 2015, and 45 community education workshops, Oceanside approved the introduction of a bag ban ordinance on Wednesday.

Oceanside will join 150 other California municipalities that have a ban on plastic bags, including Encinitas, Solana Beach and Del Mar.

The city’s October 2015 attempt to pass a ban failed with Councilman Jerry Kern, Councilman Jack Feller and Councilwoman Esther Sanchez voting no. At that time speakers were split over a ban, and Sanchez recommended an education campaign.

In February, Sanchez asked fellow council members to write a city letter in support for AB 270, which bans plastic bags statewide, but the City Council did not act on the suggestion.

The vote on Wednesday was 3-2 with Kern and Feller voting no.

Kern said he is waiting on the outcome of the November state vote that challenges AB 270. He said if AB 270 gets voter support, it would supersede city law. If it failed, it would give a tally of the choice of Oceanside voters, which the city could use to implement a city law or not.

Feller opposed the ban due to its inconvenience to shoppers. “It’s unlimited what you can take away from citizens,” Feller said.

Over a dozen speakers supported the city’s plastic bag ban. Comments included protecting marine life from litter, and keeping plastic out of our food chain.

Speakers shared how easy it was to bring along reusable bags to shop. “I haven’t used a plastic bag in 10 years, you get the hang of it if you try,” Oceanside resident Amber Newman said.

Colleen Foster, city senior management analyst, said the ban would help the city move from its current 71 percent waste diversion to 75 to 90 percent waste diversion by 2020.

Staff reports shared that plastic bags are not recyclable curbside, travel long distances by wind and end up in waterways.

“Single-use carry out bags are difficult to recycle and manage,” Foster said.

Others pointed out plastic bags are among the most picked up types of litter during beach clean ups.

There was also support from the California Grocers Association.

City regulations will use a tiered approach to require large grocery and retail stores first, then smaller stores and restaurants to comply over two years. A 10-cent fee will be charged for paper and reusable bags.

Oceanside’s rules are similar to the proposed state law. By passing a city ban it shows support for the statewide ban.

Following the council’s vote Councilman Chuck Lowery said that there will be a strong push by plastic bag manufacturers to defeat AB 270. A city ban will ensure regulations are in place.

“Win or loose (on a state law) Oceanside’s new regulation will start cleaning up the mess in our neighborhoods, in landfills and in the ocean,” Lowery said.

City regulations will receive a final vote, and go into effect Jan. 1, 2017.

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