Del Mar council considers plastic bag ban

Like its coastal neighbors, the city of Del Mar may soon also ban single-use plastic bags.

The Del Mar City Council on Dec. 7 directed staff to draft an ordinance that would outlaw such bags from retailers and restaurants across the city.

The city’s Sustainability Advisory Board brought the issue before the council in an effort to enact a citywide ban, which board members said would conserve resources, reduce litter and pollution, and protect wildlife.

“This is a beach community,” said Helen Eckmann, who serves on the Sustainability Advisory Board. “We want to have a beach that stays nice so that visitors will want to come, business will continue to flourish and local wildlife will continue to do well.”

Solana Beach became the first city in the county to ban plastic bags in 2012. Encinitas adopted a similar ban two years later.

California became the first state in the country to outlaw plastic bags when Gov. Jerry Brown signed a statewide ban in 2014. The implementation of the law was suspended, however, so voters could weigh in on the issue in November 2016.

“I feel that we need to do this, as a member of our community, as a demonstration to future generations,” said Nitza Leichtling, who also sits on the board. “It’s our time. Let’s join in. Let’s do what’s right for future generations.”

Prior to presenting its recommendation to the council, the board reviewed the Solana Beach and Encinitas ordinances. Board members also met with representatives from the Encinitas Environmental Commission and Surfrider Foundation.

Locally, the board surveyed more than 20 Del Mar businesses, many of which already do not use plastic bags.

After hearing the board’s recommendation, the council directed city staff to draft an ordinance. A draft ordinance will be brought back for a public hearing Feb. 16, 2016, followed by a second reading and adoption on March 7.

Deputy Mayor Terry Sinnott said he would like to see more Del Mar-related data prior to passing such legislation.

“I’d like to get a little bit more information,” he said. “I just don’t want to rubber stamp a ban so quickly.”

If the ban is adopted, the board recommends the city move forward with a six-month phased implementation for retail establishments beginning in October 2016 and a one-year phased implementation for restaurants and the Del Mar Farmers Market beginning in April 2017. The ban would not be applicable to the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

Paper bags that contain recycled content would be available for a minimum of 10 cents.

“It’s thoughtful and respectful of our residents to do it this way,” said Mayor Sherryl Parks, who commended the board’s implementation plan.