By Bill Brough, Councilman, city of Dana Point

Dana Point City Council member Bill Brough. File photo
Dana Point City Councilman Bill Brough. File photo

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.

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comments (3)

  • Bill,

    Thank you for standing up for common sense, freedom, and individual liberties.

    I have been fighting the bag ban as well. On my blog are some interesting articles, including a download page where some articles can be downloaded as PDF files.

    There are a number of articles that should raise some eyebrows. For example, for every ton of plastic carryout bags put in the landfill before a plastic bag ban, would be replaced by as much as four tons of plastic bags, reusable bags, paper bags, replacement plastic bags, and other plastic bags and wraps previously recycled at grocery store recycling bins.

    There is also an article on plastic bag bans hitting your pocketbook. It costs about $30 for plastic bags per year. With a fee on paper bags the cost is up to $78 to $195. Reusable bags, which includes washing your bags once per month would cost about $106 to $216 per year which includes your labor cost estimated at minimum wage rates.

    There are many more articles with information that you need to know to fight the ban.

  • There are so many reasons why the bag ban is unfounded, costly, and even dangerous. But alas, this issue is not about the facts but about emotions. A small minority group shouted loudly enough, and was able to put out enough propaganda and pressure on the Dana Point city council (and city councils in other cities) that they could enforce removing the rights and freedoms of businesses and private citizens. Essentially, they forced their lifestyle choice onto others who they feel are obviously too stupid to choose to use reusable bags on their own. Their philosophy is this: “If the public isn’t smart enough to use reusable bags on their own, then we will force them to do it, whether they like it or not.”

    This is a travesty, not only for the truth, but for the political process and the rights of the people to be weighed. Imagine, the city forces people to change their lifestyle, spend hundreds of dollars per year on an alternative and much less convenient method of carrying products, and exposes them to increased health risk. Yet not a single citizen was allowed to cast a vote.

    Why not either convince the city council for a vote by the people, or obtain enough signatures to force this to a vote of the people?

    Isn’t it interesting that NO city council ever respects their citizen’s intelligence or rights enough to allow them to vote on this. They sit in their council chambers and decree on their people “Thou shall not have the right to a use a plastic bag in that manner!”

    The city council feels warm and fuzzy, but the people suffer.

    And, sadly, it makes little or no positive impact to the environment.

  • Gee, Americans are getting trampled again, woe is us. But here’s a few truths about plastic. Our oceans are crammed with products made from plastic, but not paper. Plastic kills across species, from eating the plastic and getting entangled. Paper disintegrates and causes little damage. See a difference? I know it is difficult intellectually to acknowledge the point, especially if you’re trying to condemn the environmentally aware and the requirement for regulation, but in this case the city is correct.

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