By Bill Brough, Councilman, city of Dana Point
With Earth Day upon us, I thought it timely to look at the result of Dana Point’s plastic bag ban that took effect April 1, and which I opposed.
You may recall, City Council debated the issue for six months and ultimately passed a ban. I offered a substitute ordinance relying upon education, personal responsibility and strengthening our litter ordinance, which was rejected, even though it had the support of the Chamber of Commerce and Harbor Merchants Association.
The final ordinance was watered down to exclude restaurants and businesses under a $4 million cap essentially leaving large grocery stores—Smart & Final, Ralphs and Albertsons—to adhere, at least until October.
Let’s look at the result.
Smart & Final created a new plastic bag that is acceptable under the ordinance while Ralphs and Albertsons switched to paper bags, and that cost is passed on to the consumer. Some argue it is an indirect tax. It is another example of government starting with the best intention and ending without producing the desired outcome, while infringing upon our freedom and individual liberties.
I regret the entire exercise was nothing more than a feel good crusade and the result is much worse for the environment. Paper bags cause us to use more water, cut more trees and add more volume to our landfills than plastic.
It is my hope that the environmental community will join me, and the city, in finding a solution to address the high bacteria levels at Doheny State Beach rather than pushing plastic bag bans. This is one of my highest priorities. We need to urge the Brown administration, California State Parks, California Coastal Commission and San Diego Regional Water Quality Board to work with us, instead of acting as regulators, in finding a solution to the public health problem at Doheny.
In an effort to provide our readers with a wide variety of opinions from our community, the DP Times provides Guest Opinion opportunities in which selected columnists’ opinions are shared. The opinions expressed in these columns are entirely those of the columnist alone and do not reflect those of the DP Times or Picket Fence Media. If you would like to respond to this column, please email us at email@example.com.