The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors directed staff to begin crafting an ordinance for a countywide ban of single-use plastic bags during its Tuesday meeting.
After reviewing potential options, the board told staff to draft the ordinance to include some of the same provisions of a statewide ban currently being considered by the state Legislature — Senate Bill 270. The decision was made after Assistant County Administrative Officer Cheryl Dillingham told the board that passing an original ordinance might cause some confusion should the state bill pass in the near future.
“If we adopted this after September 1, then they would pre-empt the county,” she said, adding that any minor differences in restrictions may cause the county to bear the cost of enforcing the ordinance.
The provisions in the proposed state ordinance would prohibit specified grocery stores and pharmacies from giving out single-use plastic bags starting July 1, 2015, with a second phase starting July 1, 2016, which would bar convenience and liquor stores from giving out single-use plastic bags.
Unlike the state bill, the board was unclear on whether the county’s ordinance should keep the charge of 10 cents for recyclable paper bags.
Second District Supervisor Estelle Fennell said the charge has greater connotations.
“If we’re charging people to modify their behavior, I don’t feel comfortable with that,” she said.
Fourth District Supervisor Virginia Bass disagreed.
“I do think part of this is changing behavior,” Bass said. “In some ways, there is a social responsibility to get rid of the bag.”
In its decision, the board directed staff to have the heads of the county Public Works Department and the Environmental Health Division of the Department of Health and Human Services talk to determine who would enforce the ordinance should it pass.