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Santa Clarita council decides against plastic bag ban

Education to remain preferred method of combatting blight

Posted: September 11, 2013 5:36 p.m.
Updated: September 11, 2013 5:36 p.m.
Plastic bags are among the litter that chokes the Los Angeles River. Plastic bags are among the litter that chokes the Los Angeles River.
Plastic bags are among the litter that chokes the Los Angeles River.

Santa Clarita residents will find free plastic bags remain available at supermarkets in the city after the City Council voted against banning the environmentally controversial totes.

Council members agreed on the issue Tuesday night citing concerns over potential fees and uncertainty over legislative repercussions.

A number of municipalities in California, including Los Angeles County and many cities, have adopted plastic bag bans. Retailers in those areas generally offer customers paper bags instead — for a per-bag fee.

The Los Angeles County ban affects stores in unincorporated areas in and around the Santa Clarita Valley.

A representative from the California Grocers Association spoke in favor of a ban at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, urging the council to adopt the same ordinance as the county.

Environmental groups have called for an end to use of the bags, saying they clog rivers, endanger wildlife and litter neighborhoods.

But Santa Clarita Mayor Bob Kellar said the ban was an example of “too much government.”

“I just think this whole thing is a giant intrusion on our citizens,” Kellar said.

Some council members spoke in favor of banning plastic bags but bristled at the implication that customers would be required to pay five or 10 cents a bag for the paper counterparts.

Such a fee would likely be required, according to City Attorney Joe Montes.

“There’s no way I am mandating a tax on paper bags for the people of Santa Clarita,” said Councilman TimBen Boydston.

“I can’t charge people,” said Councilwoman Laurene Weste. “I just can’t.”

Councilwoman Marsha McLean also said she was uncomfortable with the idea of charging people for bags.

Council members said the city should continue education and outreach efforts to try to reduce the use of plastic bags.
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