The state of Nevada County bag ban |

The state of Nevada County bag ban

The way we shop in California is going to change soon, when statewide regulations on single-use plastic shopping bags go to into effect July 2015. But the state law includes a pre-emption provision allowing city and county governments to regulate the issue locally, so long as they adopted those ordinances before Sept. 1, 2014.

The cities of Grass Valley and Nevada City both did exactly that, which should allow both municipal governments to maintain local control over this issue.

But there are some important differences between how each town is approaching it.

The biggest is that Nevada City retail businesses will be compelled to charge a minimum of a 10 cent fee for each recycled paper or reusable plastic bag, whereas similar businesses in Grass Valley will be prohibited from distributing single-use plastic bags at all. Retailers in Grass Valley will still be able to distribute paper bags, but the ordinance does not force them to charge for it.

Grass Valley retailers found to be violating the ordinance will be first issued a written warning.

After that, they can be punished with a fine not to exceed $100 for first offenses. Subsequent offenses can be punished by a fine of up to $250 — but that would fall on the retailer, rather than their customers.

The fine structure is different in Nevada City, however. There’s no mandate for a written warning.

First offenses can be punished with fines of up to $100, second offenses within one year can be punished by fines of up to $200. After that, each additional offense within one year can be punished by fines of up to $500.

Under state law, fines for violating the bag ban will go as high as $5,000 for third offenses.

Nevada City will require its retailers to keep a record of the sale of any recycled paper bag or reusable paper bag. They’ll also have to keep those records available for review by representatives of the city during business hours.

Grass Valley’s ordinance does not require affected businesses to keep such records.

Neither city’s ordinance prohibits shoppers from bringing in single-use plastic bags of their own.

Both cities have already passed and adopted bag ban ordinances which go into effect Jan. 1 2015.

If at some point either city chooses to opt out and repeal their ordinance, the distribution of single-use bag bans within city limits will then be governed by the statewide bag ban.

To contact Staff Writer Dave Brooksher, email or call 530-477-4230.

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