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Is Los Gatos Closer to Plastic Bag Ban?

The West Valley Solid Waste Management Joint Powers Agency Board recommends ban of single-use plastic bans in four West Valley cities, directs study for ban on styrofoam.

An ordinance calling for the ban of plastic bags in West Valley cities came one step closer to reality last Thursday afternoon as the four members that form the West Valley Solid Waste Management Joint Powers Agency Board voted unanimously to recommend their prohibition in retail establishments.

“In Campbell, I know there is a push to take action,” said Evan Low, Campbell Vice Mayor and board member during a meeting of the group in Monte Sereno City Hall. “The San Jose ban , and in Campbell we had the ‘let’s wait and see’ approach, but people are starting to ask why.”

Low said that he could see Campbell adopting an ordinance within the next year if the right steps are taken along with community outreach.

The committee, which consists of Low, Los Gatos Mayor Steve Rice, Saratoga Councilman Howard Miller and Monte Sereno Vice Mayor Curtis Rogers directed agency staff to draft a letter recommending banning single-use bags and polystyrene containers to the West Valley Mayors and Managers Association, which includes the cities of Campbell, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno and Saratoga.

According to the agency’s Executive Director Scott Hobson of Hilton Farnkopf & Hobson, LLC, it will be up to the Council and staff of each individual municipality whether they wish to pursue the ban.

Miller said he supports the recommendation because it will give all cities involved good direction to get started with studies, outreach and an opportunity to draft an environmental impact review report.

“We can do our part and move the ball forward,” said Miller. “That way the cities don’t have to wait on us and can move forward with a unified effort.”

The board's action came after witnessing the success of the current bag-ban ordinance that took effect Jan. 1 in San Jose and similar ordinances that are soon to take effect in Mountain View and Sunnyvale.

Hobson said that cities could draft EIRs similar to that of San Jose’s, or could come up with their own specific ordinances.

Jo Ziertek, acting assistant director of environmental service for San Jose, told the board that the city is open to helping interested parties with any information or resources it dealt with during its time drafting and executing its ordinance.

Though the small 3,000-population Monte Sereno is not home to any retail establishments, its Council recently adopted a voluntary bag-ban ordinance to help neighboring cities, according to Rogers.

Rice said he was comfortable with supporting a resolution for the ban, but said he did not want to undo anything that has been achieved by Los Gatos' General Plan Committee, and was not fully comfortable with the part of San Jose’s ordinance that charges residents 10 cents for every paper bag used in stores.

Rice said the town's Sustainability Committee is already working on Los Gatos'  Sustainability Plan, as called for in the General Plan. He said he didn't want the JPA's position to be taken as a directive to, or circumvention of the committee's work. 

“As far as Los Gatos, we’re already there,” Rice said. “I’m not sure if we want to take an action where we jump out in front of the committee, but I don’t have a qualm with plastic bags.”

The board also voted unanimously to direct staff in each West Valley city to conduct a study on the economic and environmental impacts of an ordinance that calls for a ban on styrofoam by each city.

Low said the conducting individual studies is an easier way to draft policy for the ordinance.

“Rather than making a resolution, we are conducting a study on what kind of impacts it would have on businesses and how we would enforce it,” he said.

The West Valley Solid Waste Management Joint Powers Agency Board reviews issues related to the solid waste management franchise, disposal, recycling, and yard waste agreement for Los Gatos, Saratoga, Monte Sereno, and Campbell. 

All of the west valley cities contract for solid waste collection and disposal services through the JPA. The current solid waste provider is West Valley Collection and Recycling.

Stephanie Bennett February 07, 2012 at 12:26 AM
Of course they should ban plastic bags; it's so easy to bring your own re-usable bags; I keep a stash of them in both cars. They are also given away at almost every event imaginable now...at school, work, conferences, running races, etc. It will be second nature in no time if plastic is banned.
Kim Ratcliff February 07, 2012 at 01:15 AM
I am in support of banning plastic bags in LG. It's ridiculous that everywhere I shop, the clerks automatically place items in a plastic bag--even if I only have one or two items and even if I requested no bag.
Irene Aida Garza-Ortiz February 07, 2012 at 01:37 AM
I think that "ALL" Plastic bag should be banned! Not just in Los Gatos! Come on People We Need To Take On Some Responsibility And Save Our World Here!
Leslie February 07, 2012 at 01:38 AM
I believe that it is better to offer incentive not ask for a bag rather than to ban them. Look at the line in your San Jose grocery store- it is often the elderly who have no bags and now are being charged extra to get them- the cost of them was ALREADY built into the cost of doing business. There are some absolutely crazy aspects to San Jose's law. If you go to Valley Fair Mall, only on the San Jose side, you can't get a bag for a purchase of new clothing unless you pay for one. Think about buying your wedding gown at Nordstrom and it not being legal to get a hanging bag. Other stores in the Mall can still offer a bag, so we are shopping on the Santa Clara side. I don't want to put my new shoes or clothes into a reusable bag that held my lettuce yesterday. In addition, most of us used those plastic and paper bags for filling with recycling matter. I am tired of being legislated instead of educated.
AR February 07, 2012 at 05:46 AM
i just love hearing the opposition to such basic, obvious and trivial measures such as this. i can only imagine the howls from these dinosaurs when leaded fuel was taken off of the market. and can you believe it? they won't let me pump raw sewage into the street anymore! what next? where will it end?!?! everyone reading this lives better than 99.999% of all humans who have ever lived. heaven forbid you have to suffer the trivial inconvenience of packing your own bags while indulging consumerism on a scale that the royalty of europe could not have imagined a century ago, just so that your future grandchildren might enjoy some of the same without dealing with a toxic cesspool of decaying petroleum products.
Gwen Reandeau February 07, 2012 at 05:50 AM
I am all in favor of banning plastic bags in the grocery stores - this one step would really help to decrease the load on our landfills and give us all a sense of personal responsibility for improving the state of our environment. Most grocery stores sell reusable bags for 99 cents. If you attend your local Council meetings, you can usually get a free canvas or fabric bag, too.
AR February 07, 2012 at 05:56 AM
why do you think you need to put your recycling into a plastic bag? the garbage man doesn't need it gift wrapped. and the plastic bag is no less toxic because you put it in the recycling bin. as to the fear of putting your shoes into a bag your lettuce was in....simple. take half your bags. write "wet stuff only" on them with a marker. take the other half, write "dry stuff only" on them. now follow those directions. problem solved.
Jim Thrall February 07, 2012 at 06:36 AM
If the ban kicked off with a town-funded (with sponsors) recycle bag giveaway over a period of a few weeks, especially targeting the elderly in town and, generally, folks who need them - then we will go a long way in helping to change behavior with some positive action. In a small (for where we are) town of 30,000, its more doable than in a city the size of San Jose. The town can order the phase-out of plastic bags with a conscious, phase-in approach and really show some class along the way. Its just one idea, we can come up with a few others that aren't silly and can alleviate some of the problems raised by opponents of the proposal.
Julie Davis Berry February 07, 2012 at 07:18 AM
Why not? Yes, it's inconvenient, but it's a good habit to get into and for a very good cause. Ten cents for a brown paper bag is not going to bankrupt anyone.
Jenny Gallagher February 11, 2012 at 06:40 PM
have fun shopping at the Santa Clara side of valley fair, the only stores in santa clara, is Gap to Macys Mens. Can i get wedding gowns or womens shoes between there?? oh and Stores still allow to give out handing bags.
Michael Rooney February 15, 2012 at 06:00 PM
The common man doesn’t have time to start referendum campaigns, protest stupid laws or attend council meetings to dissuade elected officials from passing stupid worthless legislation. We are too busy working for a living, to pay the salaries of the elected officials. I’m tired of elected officials passing stupid laws without the consent of the governed. I think that if elected officials want to pass a new law that affects us all, they should be required to start a petition drive, and get the signatures of at least 10% of the voting population before they can even PROPOSE new legislation. I think they should spend their time getting rid of bad legislation, the kind that sounded like a good idea, but has either cost taxpayers too much money to implement, or didn’t work as intended.
AR February 15, 2012 at 09:50 PM
so in your first paragraph you tell me the working man is too busy to gather the information necessary to have an informed opinion then in your third paragraph you tell me that any meaningful legislation should result *only* from a plebiscite (??) half the whacked-out garbage that has debilitated california is as a result of voter propositions, not representative government.
Don W September 06, 2012 at 04:19 AM
Los Gatos should NOT follow the misled city council members from other cities with a stupid law like this. Think about it, they are putting themselves in the position to dictate to all of us how, why, and when we may use a plastic bag? It is OK for the newspaper to deliver newspapers in them, but not for grandma to get one when she wants to carry her groceries? If you want to use a reusable bag because it makes you feel warm and fuzzy then GOOD FOR YOU! The problem here is dictating to everyone else the senselessness of this plastic bag ban logic. Join the group www.stopthebagban.com to fight back against this stupidity.

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