Commission promotes environmental goals

ENCINITAS — The city’s Environmental Advisory Commission gave City Council an update on goals for the upcoming year and progress made in achieving ongoing efforts to green the city on Nov. 17.
Commission Chairwoman Elizabeth Taylor gave a detailed work plan to the council.
She said the education efforts of the group to encourage shoppers to carry reusable bags rather than a single-use bag has been very successful.
In 2008 and 2009, the citywide Day without a Bag event was very successful. “It gets bigger every year,” Taylor told the council.
This year’s event is Dec. 16. “We’re expanding to nearly every jurisdiction in the county this year,” she said.
The commission expects to have 100 participating businesses handing out free bags from across the county, according to Taylor.
During the first event, approximately nine participating merchants handed out free, reusable bags.
In 2009, a dozen participating merchants handed out a total of 4,000 reusable bags.
Reducing single-use plastic bags continues to be a goal for the commission.
“It’s good to see other communities moving in that direction,” Surfrider member Jon Severino said. “I’d like to see us do it, too.”
Marty Benson, also of the Surfrider Foundation, urged the council to agendize the plastic bag ban.
He noted that Los Angeles County recently passed a plastic bag ban that also includes a fee for paper bags.
In a surprising 3-2 vote, City Council voted Sept. 10, 2008, to direct staff to draft an ordinance banning plastic bags.
Councilman James Bond joined then-Deputy Mayor Maggie Houlihan and Councilwoman Teresa Barth in supporting a phased-in process to eliminate the use of all point-of-purchase single-use plastic shopping bags within the city.
However, the bag-ban movement faced some setbacks this year, Taylor said.
A state proposal to ban single-use plastic bags failed to win approval in the state Senate this summer.
Councilman Jerome Stocks said he was in favor of keeping an eye on lawsuits in other jurisdictions before he could support a citywide ban on single-use plastic bags.
He suggested merchants charge a fee for bags rather than a government-imposed ban.
“That should be something that is left to the merchant and consumer relationship,” he said.
Leucadia resident Russell Levan urged the council to adopt the commission’s work plan.
He said the Green Spring events that last from Earth Day in April through Environment Day in June should be well-attended next year. He applauded the speakers’ series and other events.
For more information, contact the Environmental Commission at greeningourcommunity@cityofencinitas.org.

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