By Ted AYALA
The days of that scourge of the sewer drain, that trusty companion of dog owners everywhere, the plastic shopping bag, are numbered in Glendale.
In a final vote taken Tuesday night, Glendale City Council voted in favor of banning the plastic shopping bag in the city. By January 2014, retailers across the city will have to ditch the use of plastic bags in favor of paper bags for their customers. In addition, customers who opt for paper bags instead of bringing their own reusable bags will have to contend with a fee of 10 cents per paper bag purchased.
By enacting this ordinance, Glendale has become the latest Southern California city to banish the plastic bag with similar bans already in place in Pasadena and Los Angeles. The ordinance is modeled on a similar one in force in unincorporated parts of Los Angeles County since 2011. Glendale’s ordinance, however, is more far-reaching, banning the use of plastic bags not only at brick-and-mortar retailers but also at events sponsored by the city and farmer’s markets.
Though the vote in support of the ordinance was unanimous, public feedback at the meeting was mixed.
“I’m here to urge you not to make it illegal for people to use plastic bags,” said Mona Montgomery, “because that’s not the way to fix the problem. The way to fix the problem is to enforce the laws you already have in place against littering. If you charged $50 or more every time you caught someone littering, [the city] would make a whole lot of money instead of creating this burden on the people [through this ordinance]. You’re using tyrannical methods to achieve [these] goals.”
Harvey Pearson echoed Montgomery’s comments, adding, “It would be nice if the city used [plastic bags] that were biodegradable.”
“If they got them, why not switch to those?” he asked.
Councilmember Dave Weaver responded to Montgomery’s calls to enforce littering laws instead of imposing the ban on plastic bags.
“It would be nice if we could catch [the litterbugs],” he said, “but we can’t even catch all the people that drive around like maniacs in this town.”
He added that other cities have already enacted such ordinances and that Glendale would “not be alone.”
“I promised to keep an open mind on this [ordinance],” said Councilmember Ara Najarian who had previously expressed reservations about banning plastic bags. “But although [the ban] may be a temporary inconvenience, I think we can all remember to bring a reusable bag. Put it in the back of your car and go shop. [My colleagues] convinced me; I will support this.”
The plastic bag ordinance will be enacted in two stages. In the first six months, retailers with over 10,000 square feet in space or earning over $2 million will have to comply; the next six months will be given to smaller retailers to comply with the ban. By January 2014 all affected retailers, totaling 164, will be required to comply with the ordinance.