Despite a lengthy list of questions and concerns from Mayor Matt Grocott, the San Carlos City Council moved one step closer to finalizing an ordinance that bans single-use bags and requires the use of reusable bags throughout the city.
In a 4-1 vote Monday night, the council voted to approve the reusable bag ordinance.
Beginning July 1, retail businesses in San Carlos will no longer provide customers with single-use plastic bags upon checkout. Bags made of recycled paper or reusable bags will be available for a minimum price of 10 cents per bag. Consumers may bring from home any type of bags they wish and are strongly encouraged to do so.
During 2011, city staff began to explore the possibility of a multi-agency approach to a plastic bag ordinance in San Mateo County.
"The City Council asked us to begin looking at this in 2011 as part of their Strategic Plan when it was suggested by Omar Amhad who was mayor at the time,” said assistant city manager Brian Moura.
“Last year when did the polystyrene ban, people said ‘that’s great, but what about an ordinance eliminating plastic bags,’” Moura said.
“A lot of people in town have been waiting for this moment and it was nice to see the council green light it and move forward.”
Moura said the city appreciates the support of the local business community and their willingness to partner with the city and county.
"We’ll be working with Dean Peterson and the county environmental health folks on implementing the ordinance," added Moura.
Key provisions of the County’s Reusable Bag Ordinance are:
• Prohibits use of Single-Use Carryout Plastic Bags by all Retail Businesses.
• Allows protective plastic and paper bags without handles for meat, produce, prepared food and prescription medicine as well as garment bags.
• Excludes restaurants and non-profit charitable re-use organizations.
• Retailers can sell Recycled Paper Bags to customers if they are made of at least 40 percent post-consumer recycled content.
• Paper and reusable bags sold by retailers must carry a minimum price of 10 cents per bag which increases to 25 cents per bag on January 1, 2015.
• Customers purchasing food with WIC and CalFresh food stamps can receive paper bags with 40 percent or more post-consumer content at no cost.
• Retailers must keep a record of recycled paper bags that are sold to customers.
• Fines for noncompliance would be $100 for a first violation, $200 for a second violation and $500 for the third violation. Each day in non-compliance would be counted as a violation.
The ordinance will be formally adopted at the March 11 meeting and will take effect July 1, 2013.