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City to eventually vote on plastic bag, leaf blower bans

ENCINITAS — Council agreed to place a plastic bag ban on a future agenda at Wednesday night’s meeting. 

Deputy Mayor Lisa Shaffer said that the city should have a “full staff report” on the ban.

Jacy Bolden, the Encinitas Environmental Commission coordinator, presented a report on the potential cost of a bag ban and the progress of statewide legislation on the matter.

The statewide legislation would ban single-use carryout bags for large retailers in 2015, and then convenience stores and smaller businesses in 2016. State lawmakers are currently considering the legislation — a process that Encinitas is watching.

The environmental commission’s report noted that a bag ban might need an accompanying environmental impact report.

The cost for the impact report is estimated at $25,000 if the city decides to contract out to another agency, though Encinitas is potentially capable of analyzing it in-house.

In 2008, council voted to move forward with a plastic bag ban.

But the city never adopted it after the plastic bag industry threatened litigation if Encinitas didn’t complete an environmental impact report.

Due to the cost of an environmental impact report, the city scrapped the ban.

A future agenda report on the plastic bag ban will look at a larger picture of the fiscal and environmental effects on the city and businesses. It would also note cities’ different approaches to a ban.

Solana Beach voted to ban plastic bags and requires that stores charge 10 cents per paper bag, which goes back to the retailer.

Council will also hear a leaf blower ban at some point.

Residents have complained that the leaf blowers are noisy, contribute to air pollution and blow materials into the street and storm drains, adversely affecting ocean water quality, according to the informational report from the environmental commission.

Encinitas’ options include banning all leaf blowers or only forbidding gas-powered leaf blowers.

Several San Diego jurisdictions have chosen to ban or limit leaf blowers. Del Mar prohibits leaf blowers altogether, while Solana Beach banned two-stroke leaf blowers, the report notes.

But according to the report, a ban on gas-powered leaf blowers raises issues as well: Landscapers would likely have to use generators to power electric leaf blowers, which could be louder than the gas-powered leaf blowers. And some electric blowers make a high-pitched sound that can be just as disruptive.

The report did not recommend ways to enforce a leaf blower ban.

But it noted that Los Angeles sends out warnings for those who use leaf blowers within 500 feet of a residence.

If the warnings are ignored, the city has the power to issue $100 tickets to offenders.

Council will consider the leaf blower and plastic bag bans at a future date.

1 comment

Ron Ranson April 13, 2013 at 12:48 pm

Gas and electric leaf blowers are some of the most polluting devices ever invented. The noise and toxic dust in the air (where do users think the dirty stuff goes?) are a major reduction in our quality of life issues in Encinitas.

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