OCEANSIDE — Oceanside gave final approval to a single-use plastic bag ban on Aug. 24. It prohibits stores from distributing plastic bags to customers to carry out goods.
The regulation asks stores to charge customers for reusable bags, and allows stores to give them away during limited promotion periods.
It also permits the exception to not charge customers for reusable bags who participate in state food assistance programs.
The city ordinance is worded much like state Proposition 67 that is up for a vote in November.
Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery said the city ordinance is a good backup, if the state law fails.
“If the state ban passes, it supersedes ours this late in game (and) doesn’t make sense to implement it (before January),” Lowery said. “City staff has done so much work it’s already ready to go (city ban or state ban).”
He added if the city regulation passed when first introduced (by Lowery) in October 2015, it would have shown support for a state ban.
Lowery said he thinks it would have been more impactful to have passed it earlier, and then follow up with outreach and education.
“In my opinion we could have passed it last October when I brought it up,” Lowery said. “All outreach would have the same exact outcome. We’re ready to move forward now.”
Oceanside postponed deciding on the regulation in order to have a community outreach campaign, which was met with positive results. Forty-five presentations were given to a wide variety of community groups in different neighborhoods to collect input and provide information on the harm of plastic bag waste.
Negative impacts of single-use plastic bags include greenhouse gas emissions, litter and effects on wildlife.
Lowery said the bottom line is there is a bag ban, and plastic will be kept out of the landscape, waterways and landfills.
Final City Council adoption of the ordinance was 3-2. Councilman Jerry Kern and Councilman Jack Feller voted no.
Kern said he wants to wait for results of the state proposition vote in November.
Feller said he opposes the inconvenience the ban causes shoppers.
Last week, shoppers at Walmart Neighborhood Market on Mission Avenue were asked by Coast News if they were aware of the ban, and if they agreed with it.
Most shoppers had a full cart of groceries bagged in plastic. Two out of 20 did not use plastic bags. One shopper brought a reusable bag, the other purchased a single food item and carried it without a bag.
All shoppers Coast News spoke to were Oceanside residents.
None were aware the city had passed a bag ban.
Still the majority supported the idea.
“It makes sense, everyone else is (banning plastic bags),” shopper Chris Yant said.
“I wasn’t aware (of a ban), it’s good for the environment and less trash in the ocean,” shopper Daniel Garcia said.
Many who used plastic bags that day saw reusable bags as a better option.
“People trash plastic bags all over the place, reusable bags would be the way to go,” shopper Roberto Ibarra said.
Only one shopper said it was the grocer’s responsibility to provide bags as a convenience.
The city or state bag ban will go into effect Jan. 1, 2017 for bigger stores and city events. Smaller stores will need to comply by Jan. 1, 2018.