Carpinteria Settles Bag Ban Lawsuit

Must Pay Coalition to Save the Plastic Bag $11,500 in Attorney’s Fees

Carpinteria’s City Council voted to soften its citywide bag ban, one of the most far reaching in the state, as part of a settlement agreement worked out with the Coalition to Save the Plastic Bag.

As a result of the settlement, the council agreed to exempt restaurant take-out bags from the ordinance as well as pay the Coalition $11,500 in attorney’s fees. Coalition attorney Stephen Joseph sued Carpinteria over initially including take-out bags in its ordinance, arguing local governments are precluded by regulating such bags by California health and safety codes.

While Carpinteria’s attorneys argued otherwise, Judge Thomas Anderle — in a preliminary ruling — clearly was more persuaded by Joseph’s arguments. To date, no court has ruled definitively on the subject, though the City of San Francisco — also being sued by Joseph — has a case still pending.

The Carpinteria Council will amend its ordinance to reflect this change. In addition, it will exempt all stores smaller than 3,000 square feet — or $5 million in annual sales — from the total bag ban. They will be allowed to use paper bags. Likewise, hybrid shops — that sell both take-out food and groceries — will be allowed to use plastic bags only for take-out and paper bags for everything else.

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