The Carpinteria City Council, after years of discussion and heated public meetings, voted to officially ban single-use bags Monday night. The ordinance’s last reading and final adoption came with a 4-1 vote with Councilmember Joe Armendariz dissenting. The decision puts Carpinteria at real risk of being sued by the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition, which told the city before the vote it would launch litigation if restaurants were not exempted from the ban. The group cites safety concerns around transporting hot food items out of restaurants.
The ordinance mandates that small stores that make less than $5 million annually can still dole out paper bags to their customers. Larger grocery stores will have to start abiding by the ban as early as July of this year; smaller stores have until July 2013 to make the transition.
Armendariz voted against the ordinance, stating its language needed further revision in order to sidestep the potential lawsuit that he predicted could cost the city $100,000 to fight. The board discussed the matter, but the majority ultimately remained steadfast in its approval. One of Councilmember Kathleen Reddington’s last statements confirmed her strong stance on the ban. “If anything,” she said, “I think the ban will create more opportunities, more tourism for the city. We have a chance to set an example here.”