Council Opts to Not Revisit Plastic Bag Ban

Mayor Helene Schneider sought to bring the issue of a plastic bag ban back to the City Council for reconsideration after the California Supreme Court ruled last Thursday that such bans need not be first subjected to thorough environmental review. That case involved Manhattan Beach, where an industry-backed group — the Coalition to Save the Plastic Bag — challenged the city’s ban on lack of environmental review and prevailed in the lower courts. Plastic bag supporters argued that analysis was required to calibrate the extent to which such bans promote an increased use of paper bags. The Supreme Court disagreed, ruling that a modicum of common sense would do instead.

During council deliberations over a proposed plastic bag ban — which took place two days before the Supreme Court ruled — city attorney Steve Wiley cautioned that such bans had been successfully challenged on environmental grounds in other cities. The council majority voted 4 to 3 against a plastic bag ban. Schneider, who initially supported the ban but then joined with the majority in subsequent votes to require stores to provide re-usable bags, sought to bring the matter back for reconsideration.

Despite her contention that the council conversation might have had a different outcome had the Supreme Court ruling been known, her motion for reconsideration failed by a 4 to 3 vote. She was joined by councilmembers Grant House and Bendy White. Twelve other California cities have such bans.

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