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Students push Nevada City to examine plastic bag ban

Christopher Rosacker
Staff Writer
Photo submitted to The Union

Dozens of people, including about 20 students, petitioned the Nevada City Council to adopt an ordinance banning single-use plastic bags at the governing body’s Wednesday meeting.

“We are here to ask that you create an ordinance to ban single-use plastic bags in Nevada City,” said Nicolette Ronningen, a junior at Nevada Union High School, who went on to name communities in California that have adopted similar bans.

Already more than 50 ordinances have banned single-use plastic bags, covering more than 70 jurisdictions statewide.

“It’s a long list and it is about time we are on it,” Ronningen said.

As envisioned, the coalition of proponents suggest an ordinance that would apply to single-use plastic bags, the kind with handles used at the checkout counter of most grocery stores, said Grass Valley Charter School teacher Alex Ezzell.

What the students and supporting community members envision would not exclude the use of plastic produce bags, he said. They also suggest a 10-cent fee for paper bags, a measure similar to those seen statewide, some of which increase the fee after a specified time.

A statewide ban has been proposed before — a current version garnered the state Assembly’s Natural Resources Committee approval at the beginning of April.

“In the near future, the state and the whole country will likely have some sort of plastic bag ban,” said former Councilwoman Reinette Senum.

“But it would be lovely for Nevada City to take the lead on this.”

Truckee is also considering an ordinance that would ban all plastic checkout bags, but the town’s council is still considering the specifics.

A municipal survey there showed that 70 percent of the area’s 1,109 community members and 51 percent of 41 business owners are in favor of the ban, according to the Sierra Sun, a sister publication of The Union.

In a April interview with The Union, David Painter, co-owner of the local SPD Markets, said he would be supportive of a ban as long as it is instituted countywide, a sentiment he reportedly reiterated to Mayor Duane Strawser.

“It is not fair for SPD, a small, family run store, to compete with corporate stores such as Safeway and Raley’s,” Strawser said.

Proponents reported support from managers of the local Raley’s, Safeway, Savemart and B&C True Value hardware store, said Sue Roberts-Emery, a member of Bag Busters of Nevada County.

Those in attendance said they plan to address the Grass Valley City Council at one of its upcoming meetings but noted that a previous effort to approach the Nevada County Board of Supervisors resulted in its members directing those students to approach the municipalities of Grass Valley and Nevada City first.

“I am supportive, with the understanding that it is approached collectively,” said Councilwoman Sally Harris.

“I could see where, unless we do this across the community, it is going to put our businesses on, what Dave Painter termed an uneven playing field.”

A consumer survey on a plastic bag ban can be found at surveymonkey.com/s/BagBusters Consumer; businesses can weigh in at surveymonkey.com/s/BagBustersBusiness.

To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email crosacker@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4236.

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