BEACON is moving forward with its plan to pursue a regional environmental review process for single-use plastic bag ban ordinances with the Santa Barbara City Council’s support. If all goes according to plan, cities throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura counties would collaborate on just one ERI process for the bag ban ordinances.
The Beach Erosion Authority for Clean Oceans and Nourishment will conduct the EIR using Santa Barbara’s draft ordinance as a model and approach all 10 entities in its jurisdiction to see if any want to join the effort and split the EIR cost. After the environmental review is done, each jurisdiction can decide whether to adopt a bag-ban ordinance, Santa Barbara City Attorney Steve Wiley said at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
Santa Barbara’s draft ordinance would ban plastic bags from grocery stores and other retail stores that sell certain food items and require a 10-cent fee for any paper bag handed out to customers. Stores larger than 10,000 square feet that sell dry groceries or canned goods, or nonfood items and some perishable food, or have a pharmacy would have to comply with the ordinance within 180 days of adoption. Any other retail stores that sell grocery items such as milk, bread, soda and snack foods — including stores with liquor licenses — would have a year to phase out plastic bags, if the ordinance is adopted.
Restaurants, fast-food establishments and nonfood retail stores would be exempt.
Executive director Brian Brennan said that, ideally, BEACON will determine the scope of the EIR by this fall and return to the City Council next March.
A regional EIR is likely to cost $55,000 to $75,000, which is about the same any city would pay to go through it individually. So through the partnership, Brennan said, cities would pay more like $8,000.
The City Council also decided Tuesday in a 4-3 vote to take a favorable position on Proposition 29, the June 5 ballot initiative that would increase the tax per cigarette pack from 87 cents to $1.87 in California. The additional $735 million in revenue would fund research for cancer and tobacco-related diseases, in addition to tobacco prevention and cessation programs.
The measure is supported by the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association of California, LiveStrong, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and other organizations, according to anti-tobacco advocate Jayne Brechwald, who has served as executive director of the American Lung Association in Santa Barbara.
She said that for each dollar of the tax, 60 cents would go to research, 20 cents to preventive programs, 15 cents to research facility costs, 3 cents to enforcement efforts and 2 cents to administrative overhead. Brechwald and other proponents asked for the council’s support on Tuesday, saying the proposition would bring long-term health savings.
Councilmen Dale Francisco, Frank Hotchkiss and Randy Rowse decided against a council position on Proposition 29, though they said that they personally support the effort. They said the council has supported ballot initiatives before, but only ones that were put forward by the League of California Cities or were directly connected to the city.
“I don’t think the City Council should take a position on ones not directly related to municipal governance,” Francisco said.
The council approved a $515,000 loan in federal home funds to Habitat for Humanity to develop 12 units on East Canon Perdido Street. Habitat for Humanity bought the property with Redevelopment Agency funding, and the plans for the new buildings — which would replace two existing residences on the 19,303-square-foot property — have already been approved by the Planning Commission and the Architectural Board of Review. Construction will start in the fall.
The city has subsidized $1.44 million total for the affordable housing project, according to a staff report. The loan covers construction expenses and has no interest.