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Save the Plastic Bag Coalition Sues Carpinteria Over Single-Use Bag Ban

Complaint calls on the city to repeal its ordinance and to delay implementation until the case can go to trial

Employee Gabe Chavez of Albertsons in Carpinteria bags groceries last fall in reusable bags that customers can purchase for 32 cents. The store was ahead of the curve in phasing out single-use bags, and the City Council voted to ban all single-use bags in Carpinteria.

Employee Gabe Chavez of Albertsons in Carpinteria bags groceries last fall in reusable bags that customers can purchase for 32 cents. The store was ahead of the curve in phasing out single-use bags, and the City Council voted to ban all single-use bags in Carpinteria.  (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk file photo)

By Giana Magnoli, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @magnoli |

Carpinteria’s law banning single-use plastic bags at most stores and restaurants in the city has been met with a lawsuit, as promised by the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition.

The ban applies to all single-use bags — plastic and paper — for large commercial establishments, and to plastic single-use bags for small commercial establishments and food providers. Those smaller stores and restaurants can offer recyclable paper bags or gift bags to customers.

Attorney Stephen Joseph, representing the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition, filed a complaint in Santa Barbara County Superior Court asking for Carpinteria’s ordinance to be repealed, with implementation delayed until the case can go to trial.

The city’s ban is set to go into effect July 11 for large stores and next April for small stores and restaurants.

Following the lawsuit, Councilman Joe Armendariz issued a news release calling on his colleagues to amend the ordinance and avoid litigation. He cast the one dissenting vote for the ban when it was approved by the City Council.

“The City Council should only proceed in banning so-called single-use plastic bags if doing so could be done without exposing city taxpayers to expensive litigation,” he said.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday, and the City of Carpinteria had not filed a response as of Thursday.

Save the Plastic Bag Coalition members include companies that manufacture or supply plastic bags in Carpinteria — such as Good Packaging Inc. (or Command Packaging) — which “will suffer irreparable damage if their products are banned,” the complaint alleges.

Additionally, Joseph argues that only the state can regulate food transportation, storage and preparation, citing the California Retail Food Code. Without an injunction, he writes, consumers could suffer severe physical injury and property damage.

Paper bags aren’t waterproof and greaseproof like plastic ones, he said, and the spill danger of restaurant carryout bags “could be disastrous.”

The complaint is nearly identical to one filed against the city and county of San Francisco, which included restaurants in their bans.

The ruling in Save the Plastic Bag Coalition’s lawsuit against Manhattan Beach requires larger jurisdictions to conduct environmental reviews before implementing bans, while the suit against Santa Cruz County made the jurisdiction exempt restaurants, although the rest of the ban went into effect on Tuesday.

The City of Santa Barbara is considering its own plastic bag ban, but would exempt restaurants, a move likely to avoid a legal confrontation with Joseph.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.




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» on 03.23.12 @ 12:59 PM

The term “single-use” is a good rhetorical device.  However, both plastic and paper bags can be used multiple times, as well as be recycled.  Why is community education not pursued in this instance?  But in this particular case, the plastic and paper bag issue, so many want to act by fiat without trying the route of concerted community education.

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