So far, so good. Yesterday was the first critical date for the coast this month and Long Beach and L.A. got the ball rolling. Last night, the Long Beach City Council voted 6-2 to approve a single-use plastic bag ban ordinance identical to the L.A. County’s recently enacted measure. Like the county, grocers and other retailers can sell green paper bags for a dime with 100% of the proceeds going to the store. The only difference in the ordinance is that the start date is Aug. 1 next year instead of July 1.
The momentum on local bag bans is definitely growing. Long Beach is a city of nearly half a million people and it joins the over 1 million people in the county’s unincorporated area with bag ban ordinances in place locally. Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal led the way on advocating for the bag ban measure. Support from the environmental community, some grocery store chains and the grocers’ union made a big difference in the final vote.
Meanwhile n Los Angeles, the city council’s Energy and Environment committee finally heard the Low Impact Development ordinance that the Board of Public Works unanimously approved in January. Although the panel did not vote on the proposal, it appears that chair Jan Perry and members Paul Krekorian and Paul Koretz support the measure. Perry postponed the vote to the Dec. 14 meeting, but she made it clear that she wanted the full council vote before members go on winter recess on Dec. 17.
In the interim, she has asked for a thorough staff report on the ordinance that includes more economic analysis, a comparison to existing city stormwater requirements and an analysis of Regional Water Quality Control Board support (which Board Executive Officer Sam Unger provided at the hearing). She also sought information on the ramifications on LID requirements on the long overdue new county stormwater permit and term definitions to provide greater ordinance clarity.
If the ordinance is approved by the council, nearly all new development and redevelopment projects would be required to capture and reuse or infiltrate 100% of the runoff generated from a three-quarter inch storm. Single-family home requirements would be far more lenient.
Due to strong opposition from the Building Industry Assn. and the Central City Assn., numerous concessions have already been, including the inclusion of a three-year grandfather clause providing exemptions for new development, elimination of the offsite mitigation fees, and the allowance of a strict biofiltration compliance option to comply with LID requirements.
Despite these concessions, the BIA and CCA still opposed the ordinance. The environmental community has made it clear that any further weakening of the measure will result in the loss of support.
The final outcome for the LID ordinance is still up in the air, but yesterday’s committee hearing marked a good start. Hopefully, we’ll have good news for Los Angeles as early as the end of next week.