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Del Mar Bag ban discussed but not likely

DEL MAR — With Solana Beach planning to revisit at least one provision of its plastic bag ban, neighboring Del Mar is looking into a similar ordinance but it’s unlikely such a law will make it onto the books anytime soon. 

The Sustainability Advisory Board was asked to review single-use plastic bag bans in Solana Beach and other California cities and make recommendations to City Council.

“One of the problems in this project has been that we don’t have a lot of entities that use plastic bags,” said Councilman Don Mosier, a liaison to the advisory board, which suggested the city conduct a study to see how many businesses would be impacted by a potential ban.

If the number is fairly low, it’s possible reusable bags could be promoted without legislation, Mosier said.

His colleagues supported the notion.

“I’d like to try to think of something that would encourage businesses and restaurants … to do the sustainable thing not because city government has put an ordinance together,” Mayor Terry Sinnott said.

“I would really like to try to encourage businesses to do certain things, not ban certain things,” he said. “That just, I think, is counterproductive.”

Council members supported a recommendation to use an unpaid summer intern to conduct the study. The only cost to the city would be two hours of weekly supervision by Gretchen Crowson, assistant to the city manager.

“We could use that data to make a more reasoned decision,” Mosier said.

Solana Beach phased in an ordinance late last year that prohibits stores in the city from offering plastic bags and requires them to charge customers 10 cents for each paper bag. The money goes back to the businesses and not the city.

While most Solana Beach residents seem to support the new law, they object to paying for paper bags. There is also talk that the fee has resulted in a decrease in business, but sales numbers since the ordinance took effect have not been analyzed to confirm those fears.

Solana Beach based its ordinance on similar laws in the state, most of which include the 10-cent fee, which was added at the request of the California Grocers Association.

Council members in Solana Beach will review sales information and the ordinance at a future meeting, although no specific date has been set.

“I think what Solana Beach has done has been a detriment to their area even though … they’re reconsidering it,” Sinnott said. “Let’s collect the data. Let’s make wise decisions.”

At the March 4 meeting, the Del Mar city attorney stopped short the five-minute conversation about a potential ban because it hadn’t been properly noticed. The topic will be added to a future agenda to allow for continued discussion and public input.

Encinitas will consider a similar ban at its March 27 council meeting. That city approved an ordinance 3-2 in 2008 but it was never adopted because of a threat of litigation.


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