Plastic Bag Ban Public Hearing July 11

The public can comment on a draft of the proposed Environmental Impact Report recently released. The document will be used to assist cities—including Los Altos and others in Santa Clara County—who are weighing a ban of the single-use bags.


A movement to ban plastic bags at retail stores in the County of San Mateo and 24 other cities in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties—including Los Altos—took another step forward.

San Mateo County has released a draft of a mandated Environmental Impact Report, (EIR) which assesses the impact the proposed Single Use Bag Ban Ordinance would create. Once the EIR is complete, expected in October 2012, communities are expected to vote on whether or not to approve the ordinance. 

The proposal is meant to eliminate single-use bags. Restaurants would be excluded from the ban. Additionally, produce bags and bags that hold prescription medication would be exempted.

Cities and counties around the Bay Area considering plastic and paper bag bans, have also had to weigh the expense of conducting an EIR, since pro-plastic groups sued San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose under the California Environmental Quality Act for failing to do so before passing a plastic bag ban. The joint effort, in which San Mateo County paid for the study, and communities donated staff time, allows small communities to have an EIR.

According to the San Mateo County Health Department website:

  • 20 billion single-use plastic grocery bags are used every year in California.
  • Most end up in landfills, or as litter on land and in water. 
  • Researchers have well-documented the harmful impact to our environment and wildlife caused by one-use plastic bags.
  • Plastic never biodegrades; instead it breaks down into smaller and smaller particles that seep into our soil and water.
  • A study by the Environmental Protection Agency found that only 4.3 percent of bags end up being recycled and a single-use paper bag has an even larger greenhouse gas emission than plastic bags.

A single public hearing on the draft report of the EIR will be held by the San Mateo County Planning Commission on July 11 at 9 a.m. in 400 County Center in Redwood City.

You are also encouraged to submit written comments to envhealth@smcgov.org through the close of business on Aug. 6.

Here's a rundown of the cities in the two counties participating in the EIR:

San Mateo County

  • Brisbane
  • Belmont
  • Burlingame
  • Colma
  • Daly City
  • East Palo Alto
  • Foster City
  • Half Moon Bay
  • Menlo Park
  • Millbrae
  • Pacifica
  • Portola Valley
  • Redwood City
  • San Bruno
  • San Carlos
  • San Mateo
  • South San Francisco
  • Woodside

Santa Clara County

  • Milpitas
  • Cupertino
  • Los Gatos
  • Los Altos
  • Campbell
  • Mountain View

— Los Altos Patch Editor L.A. Chung contributed to this report 

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