By Claire Harlin
It’s time for shoppers in Solana Beach to get their reusable shopping bags ready. Starting on Aug. 9, they will either have to use their own bags or pay 10 cents each for paper bags at the grocery store, food vendor and pharmacy check-out counters.
The change follows the Solana Beach City Council’s May 9 adoption of the Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance, which the city sees as an expression of its desire to conserve resources and reduce emissions, waste, beach litter and marine pollution.
According to the city, about 160 of 461 local establishments distribute a total of about 6.5 million single-use carry-out bags each year.
The ordinance first goes into effect for larger establishments, such as Vons, CVS, Sprouts and a couple of convenience stores. On Nov. 9, the more than 100 smaller retail establishments, vendors and non-profit vendors will follow suit. The Solana Beach Farmers Market will also make the shift in three months.
City spokesman Dan King said the city has overall received positive feedback about the ordinance and has been working closely with retailers to prepare them for the shift.
“We’ve met with all the affected stores and given them flyers and posters,” said King, adding that city staff members and Clean and Green Committee volunteers will hold a kickoff event for the ban on Aug. 9 at Fletcher Cove during the summer concert series. There they will offer information on the ban and distribute reusable bags. City staff will also be providing bags and education on Aug. 11 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Vons, Sprouts and Solana Beach’s two CVS stores. On Aug. 12, volunteers will spend the morning at St. James and St. Leo Catholic Community, Solana Beach Presbyterian Church and North Coast Fellowship.
In July, the city exempted restaurants from the ordinance after threat of litigation regarding a possible violation of the California Retail Code. This exemption is being deliberated in courts statewide.
The ban does not apply to bags used for newspapers, dry-cleaning, produce and bulk items and is limited to bags used at the point of sale.
Amy Campbell, a manager of Sprouts at 659 Lomas Santa Fe, said the store is working on a reusable bag giveaway program to ease stress on customers for the first few weeks of the ban. The details of the program have yet to be finalized, she said, but cashiers have been reminding customers about the ban.
Exemptions to the ban include those participating in the California Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and city-approved businesses where undue hardship exists. Nonprofit vendors are exempt for the first year if using donated (used) plastic or paper bags.
Any person or establishment that does not adhere to the ordinance could receive a fine of up to $250 or a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or six months in prison. To report those not in compliance, call the city’s code enforcement department at (858) 720-2414 or email email@example.com. For more information about the ban, refer to the ordinance at www.ci.solana-beach.ca.us.