Los Gatos residents argue the pros and cons of single
The question “paper or plastic?” will be disappea Adidas Shoes ring from the Los Gatos landscape next Feb. 3 when the town’s ban on single use plastic bags takes effect. An Aug. 19 public hearing on the proposed ban was sparsely attended, the rhetoric fairly muted, but the pro and con arguments struck at the heart of local government.
To enact the ban, the town is referencing an environmental impact report done by San Mateo County. The EIR estimates that Los Adidas Shoes Gatos residents go through about 16 million single use plastic bags annually. The bags that Safeway gives out are an example of a single use bag.
The goal of the ordinance is to encourage people to bring reusa Adidas Shoes ble bags to the store with them, or pay 10 cents to purchase reusable plastic or paper bags.
“I have no problems banning plastic,” Los Gatos resident Jim Fox said. “I have major problems banning paper, which is recyclable, and the statistics you’ve come out with don’t work in Los Gatos.”
Vice Mayor Steve Leonardis agreed with Fox, saying banning plastic is OK, but there shouldn’t be a fee for paper. He also called the EIR “very one sided,” adding, “I feel this is being led regionally by lobbyists.”
Councilwoman Marcia Jensen responded, “Because something is done regionally doesn’t make it a bad idea.”
A group of seventh grade students from St. Mary’s School, however, weren’t concerned about the political aspects of the discussion. They presented the results of a one year project they did for teacher Lynn Dickerson’s sixth grade science class. Two students read Adidas Shoes a book they wrote called The Life of the Plastic Bag. It discusses how bags get into storm drains and creeks, causing wildlife to choke on them.
Dickerson summed up her students’ findings, saying, “We’ve had more plastic in the last 13 years than we’ve had in all of history.”
Meantime, opponents argued that the 10 cent fee for paper bags is actually a tax that’s being imposed without voter approval. The town contends the fees were upheld in a Los Angeles court case.
Even so, a member of the “Stop the Bag Ban” coalition said residents should decide in an election if they want a ban on single use bags. The town estimates an election could cost anywhere from $35,766 to $344,000, depending on whether it were a stand alone special election or consolidated with another ballot.
As the arguments continued, Councilman Joe Pirzynski weighed in by noting that his family has learned to bring their own bags to stores. He admitted it would be better if people gave up single use bags voluntarily, but added, “Until that time there may be a necessity for a little bit of imposed encouragement. Sometimes we have to encourage people to do the right thing.”
Mayor Barbara Spector, councilmembers Diane McNutt and Jensen agreed with Pirzynski: All four voted in favor of the ban. Leonardis voted no.
Restaurants and nonprofit charitable organizations, such as the Happy Dragon, are exempt from the ordinance’s provisions, as are food stamp recipients. Retailers can provide protective bags at no charge for perishable groceries such as meat, fish and produce, greeting cards and dry cleaned clothing.