If Los Altos thought it would ease into a plastic bag ban—one for big businesses now, one for mom-and-pop businesses later—it has another thing coming to it.
City staff is returning to the City Council Tuesday night with this answer: You could do a phased-in an ordinance, you just have to pay for it.
The estimate: $10,000 to $20,000 more.
Ken Lind, a senior engineer charged with working on the so-called bag ban that would reduce city litter in storm water, wrote a memo to the council outlining choices in implementing a single-use bag ordinance.
Last year, Los Altos joined 23 other cities and governmental entities, led by San Mateo County, to prepare a joint environmental impact report (EIR). The move helped cash-strapped communities share the costs that individually would have been expensive and largely duplicative, anyway.
The EIR was seen as necessary to withstand a challenges such as the lawsuits leveled against San Francisco and other communities for failing to prepare one in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act. The EIR commissioned is based on a "San Mateo model ordinance," that doesn't include a phased-in approach with two different implementation dates, Lind wrote.
The city would be required to prepare an amendment to the EIR or do its own EIR, and the cost range, not to mention additional time, would make the originally estimated cost of $30,000 rise to $50,000, Lind wrote in a memo to City Council members.
The goal is to reduce litter in stormwater, and reduce the city's trash by 40 percent by July 2014, per the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board. Without it, rates rise, and many see little choice but to proceed with the model ordinance, which cities are implementing with a variety of effective dates.
For example, cities such as South San Francisco, Belmont, Daly City, Colma, Pacifica, Portola Valley, Foster City and Mountain View approved ordinances that are going effect on Earth Day, April 22, 2013. Cupertino, is going into effect in October, citing need to conduct more education among merchants.
Council member Megan Satterlee had expressed concern that the current single-use plastic bag ordinance for Palo Alto, which passed one of the first ordinances after San Francisco, only affected large grocery stores. Lind said that staff has since found out that Palo Alto is expanding that. An ordinance will be introduced to the Palo Alto City Council on February 4, 2013 to expand that city’s current regulation to include all retail stores to be under the same regulation. The proposed ordinance also includes the provision to require a $0.10 charge for all paper bags which will increase to $0.25 in a year. The effective date of this change is planned for June 1, 2013, making the Palo Alto’s ordinance consistent with the model ordinance being adopted throughout San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, Lind wrote.
"It is staff’s recommendation that implementing the single use bag ordinance for all retailers at the same time is the more prudent approach for the City of Los Altos," wrote Lind.
Staff is requesting $30,000 that comes from the Solid Waste Fund, be allocated for the ordinance and education of its requirements, be allocated. About $6,000 would be used for reusable bag givewaways as a way of raising awareness.