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April 2, 2014
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Grass Valley puts bag ban on April city council agenda

The Grass Valley City Council will hold a public hearing on single-use disposable bags at the end of April.

This move follows numerous public comments from constituents at city council.

The Union has also received many letters to the editor, from both sides of the debate.

City staff had initially planned to agendize the matter in July, but that date was changed in order to accommodate an apparent groundswell of student activism surrounding the issue.

“I think some of the kids were expressing concern that they didn’t want the council reviewing this issue after school lets out in the summertime,” said City Manager Bob Richardson. “They wanted to be able to participate as a group.”

Proponents, many of whom have been students, argue that it would reduce the amount of plastic and litter affecting river ecosystems and marine wildlife downstream.

Opponents call it an unnecessary government intrusion into business practices, and an inconvenience for local consumers.

This issue is currently under consideration by both Nevada City and Nevada County.

The ordinance adopted recently in Truckee required businesses to charge a 10-cent fee for each bag — and keep track of their inventory so that officials can ensure the new regulations are being followed. That could present a political obstacle in Grass Valley.

“The main concern seems to be the cost of inventorying the bags,” said Keith Davies, co-executive director of the Greater Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s a manpower problem, taking additional hours to keep that inventory under control.”

Some cities have enacted rules that include exceptions for restaurants, which is also a point of criticism.

“The proposed ordinances are not fair across the board,” Davies said. “They seem to be leaning more toward penalizing retail as opposed to penalizing everyone that uses plastic bags.”

“It doesn’t seem to be fair,” he added.

A statewide single-use bag ordinance is currently on the table in Sacramento, and it reportedly includes a provision that allows cities and counties to preempt the statewide ban by passing a local ordinance.

If such an ordinance is adopted prior to Sept. 1, it would be possible for Grass Valley to maintain local control rather than conforming to the new state law.

To contact staff writer Dave Brooksher, email or call 530-477-4230.

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The Union Updated Jul 1, 2014 08:08PM Published Apr 4, 2014 08:56AM Copyright 2014 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.