The Los Angeles City Council heard testimony from over 60 people today on the long-awaited single-use plastic bag ban. The environmental community was well represented and attired in natty green. Other supporters included reusable bag manufacturers, the California Grocers Assn., the L.A. Chamber of Commerce, and 17 neighborhood councils! Clearly, a life without single-use plastic bags is a popular movement that has grown well beyond L.A. County, Long Beach, Malibu, Santa Monica, Calabasas and other SoCal cities.
Opposition was provided by bag man Stephen “This bag is more than a toy” Joseph and Crown Poly bag manufacturing staff. Joseph tried to tie the city council vote to California’s ranking by industry titans as the place they’d least likely want to do business. I’m not sure where the ranking came from, but Joseph did say that Texas was No. 1. Enough said.
Thanks to a prior commitment to the environmental community from Council President Eric Garcetti, the City Council heard the testimony. However, members were uncomfortable taking action without the bag ban first going through the Energy and Environment Committee.
Committee Chair Jan Perry was unable to get to the item in Tuesday’s meeting, but it will now be heard in a special session she has requested for Friday morning. Because Friday is the last council meeting of the year and Councilman Eric Garcetti’s last council meeting as president, there is a heightened urgency to approve a motion asking for a Chief Legislative Analyst/Chief Administrative Officer Report.
The bag ban supporters made it clear that expediting a long-delayed environmental review and writing a draft ordinance needs to occur ASAP in order for L.A. to adopt a final ordinance by early spring.
The need for an expedited bag ban ordinance goes beyond the national precedent of America’s second largest city moving forward with such a critical environmental law. An L.A. bag ban would provide another 4 million people living in cities and counties with bag bans in California, which is great for our coastal waters and watersheds.
Moreover, the approximately 10 million people living in communities in bag bans could provide the momentum necessary to finally get a statewide bag ban passed. Because so many state legislators who opposed previous bag ban legislation have districts where bans would be in place, their opposition should blow away like a plastic bag on a Santa Ana.
So a lot is at stake in the L.A. City Council at the end of the week. Tomorrow may be “A Day Without a Bag” across the county, but the fate of Los Angeles won’t be determined until Friday. The City Council has the opportunity to finally follow through on the bag ban resolution it passed back in 2008.
On Thursday, do your part (if you haven’t already): Kick the plastic bag habit by bringing your own reusable bags wherever you go, and refusing single-use bags. And Friday, please be there to support and encourage the council to provide the leadership that will eliminate the disposal of over a billion bags a year in local landfills, rivers, beaches and our Bay.