Solana Beach to revisit plastic bag ban

By Claire Harlin

The Solana Beach City Council will be revisiting the plastic bag ban it passed last May, after councilman Tom Campbell on Jan. 23 requested to have the ordinance — namely its requirement that businesses charge 10 cents for a paper bag — agendized for a future date.

The request came after former Solana Beach Mayor Celine Olson voiced her concern to the council, saying that she supported getting rid of plastic bags, but the 10-cent charge for paper bags is going too far.

“My request is that you remove the tax, which I consider it to be, that’s imposed and stop making stores lose business,” Olson said. “Management and employees have admitted to the loss of business, and as a matter of principle I will not pay to carry my products home.”

She added that fabric bags contain bacteria if they are not washed after every use, and she therefore prefers not to use them. Councilman Peter Zahn asked that the city, when revisiting the ordinance, look further into safety issues.

City Manager David Ott said it’s not the bags that cause bacteria, but the vegetables people put in the bags, however, once introduced the bacteria can exist in the bags.

Councilman David Zito also asked that the city do an analysis of sales tax revenues to examine whether businesses have lost money due to the ban.

Ott said that a plastic bag ban is now being discussed at the state level, and the 10-cent fee is included in that proposed law. He added that it was the California Grocers Association — not Solana Beach — that thought up the 10-cent fee, which was included in the ordinances of seven other jurisdictions that imposed the ban last year.

Olson said she doesn’t want to pay 10 cents that could be subsidizing advertising on paper bags, when it likely costs the bag manufacturer a fraction of that fee to make each bag.

“Please modify the law and say ‘no’ to plastic and ‘yes’ to paper — free paper bags,” she said.