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Capitola City Council Bans Plastic Bags

The ordinance will become law 90 days after a second reading by the city council.

Capitola is one step closer to banning plastic bans thanks to the decision made by the city council Thursday night. 

The council voted unanimously to pass an ordinance banning single-use plastic bags at retail stores in the city limits, mirroring ordinances passed in Watsonville and in the unincorporated county earlier this year.

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To become law, the ordinance will have to pass a second reading at an upcoming meeting. Should it pass again, it will go into effect 90 days later. 

In a public hearing at the council meeting, eight members of the community spoke in favor of the ban while one opposed it. The one man vocally against the ban said he is a retired NASA physicist.

"This is a crusade with little scientific data," he said. "We need a dose of reality. ... This is too important to leave to emotion and not to do the science. ... Bag bans have been failing miserably."

Yet Laura Kasa, executive director of Save Our Shores, said she recently stood outside Safeway in Soquel for an hour and found 78 percent of shoppers either used no bags or reusable bags.

Earlier this year, several local businesses, including Nob Hill Foods, voluntarily enacted a plastic bag ban for the sake of environmental friendliness. According to Councilmember Dennis Norton, Nob Hill Foods reported no increase in the use of paper bags since they stopped using plastic bags. 

The ban would not apply to restaurants or to loose items bagged in a grocery store prior to checkout, like produce or bulk foods. 

A second part of the ordinance which would put a 25¢ charge on paper bags at retails stores also passed, but by just a 3-2 margin with councilmembers Mike Termini and Sam Storey opposing. Termini argued that Safeway is already factoring paper bag price into its food costs. According to Assistant City Manager Lisa Murphy, the paper bag charge would not apply to low income shoppers.

The ban has seen massive support from the Capitola community. According to KASA, 470 people signed a Save Our Shores petition in support of the ban. Over on the Capitola-Soquel Patch Facebook Page, locals have shown unanimous backing for the ban. 

What do you think? Should plastic bags be erased from Capitola? Are you okay paying 25¢ for paper bags? Tell us in the comments!

Jane December 14, 2012 at 05:07 AM
So will this affect TARGET too? Super curious why Target still hands out plastic bags and doesn't charge for paper, like the rest of Capitola. It baffles me as to why the rules don't apply biggest corporate store in our city. Anyone?
Jacob Bourne December 14, 2012 at 05:11 AM
Right now the ban is only current in the unincorporated county (that's why Safeway on 41st is under the ban — technically it's in Soquel). So right now none of Capitola charges for paper. After the second reading of the ordinance, once the law is in effect, this will apply to Target for it's thin plastic bags. If it uses thicker plastic like many department stores, those bags are considered reusable, so I believe they will not be banned, but I will double check that.
Frank Geefay December 17, 2012 at 07:47 AM
Single use plastic bags should be banned nationwide. They plug up drain storms, are a hazard to animals who might ingest them, are easily blown everywhere by the wind leaving a mess that needs to be cleaned up, fill our landfill with plastic which can take hundreds of years to degrade when buried, use non-renewable components as natural gas and crude oil to make, can pose a suffocation hazard to young children, and are largely unrecyclable. Only about 1% of single use plastic bags are actually recycled even though you might place them in your recycle bin. Most are sent to landfills. Many cities already have single use plastic bag bans. It is easy enough to bring reusable bags to shop. It is just a matter of time before they are banned everywhere so why not ban then everywhere now. The plastic bag industry is of course fighting hard against this movement.

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