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Local News

Plastic Bag Ban Goes Into Effect For Unincorporated Santa Barbara County

Affected grocery stores, pharmacies and other retail stores cannot hand out single-use plastic bags

The Vons store at 163 S. Turnpike Rd. recently reopened after changing to a Haggen and back again. It went bag-free on Tuesday.
The Vons store at 163 S. Turnpike Rd. recently reopened after changing to a Haggen and back again. It went bag-free on Tuesday.  (Giana Magnoli / Noozhawk photo)

It’s time to ditch the plastic bags in unincorporated Santa Barbara County, as the single-use bag ban went into effect Tuesday for large retail stores.

The ban affects grocery stores, pharmacies, liquor stores and other merchants selling a limited line of food items, including milk, bread, soda and snacks.

It doesn’t ban plastic bags used by department stores, clothing stores, hardware stores or others that don’t sell food.

With a two-phase implementation, the ban affects stores that are larger than 10,000 square feet and gross sales above $2 million first – eight in the unincorporated areas – and the 66 smaller stores in September.

The stores affected Tuesday are: Ralphs at 5170 Hollister Ave. in the Magnolia Shopping Center in Noleta; Vons and CVS at the 163 S. Turnpike Road Turnpike Shopping Center in Noleta; El Rancho Market in the Santa Ynez Valley; CVS at 4852 S. Bradley in Orcutt; Albertsons and Sav-On at 1120 E. Clark Ave. in Orcutt; and Spencer’s Fresh Markets at 3580 Orcutt Rd. in Orcutt.

County staff will check on all the stores in the next week to confirm they’re not giving out single-use plastic bags, said Carlyle Johnston, project leader for Santa Barbara County’s Resource Recovery and Waste Management Division.

Johnston and other Public Works staff went to stores in person to talk to store managers and also spoke to bag vendors.

The Magnolia Shopping Center Ralphs is not ready because the manager was transferred to another location and the corporate office thought the store was within Goleta city limits and exempt — it’s not.

It was an honest mistake; The store is one block outside the city, so it will be given a warning and go bag-free by April 7, Johnston said.

“In every case (including Spencer’s and El Rancho), these large markets had another store location that was already affected by a single-use plastic bag ban,” he said in an email. “So they were all familiar with the impact and changes required. Everyone was very nice about it as well.”

Stores with a ban can offer recycled paper bags for 10 cents each, and reusable bags for sale.

The Board of Supervisors adopted the ban in a split vote, with supervisors Steve Lavagnino and Peter Adam opposed, on Aug. 25 last year.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 270 for a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags on Sept. 30, 2014, but there is a referendum to overturn the ban on November’s ballot.

The county’s ordinance is modeled after the state law, so there can be a seamless transition if it is implemented. It will affect stores in unincorporated areas including Orcutt, Vandenberg Village, the Santa Ynez Valley, Isla Vista and Montecito.

Santa Barbara County certified an environmental impact report as part of the ordinance banning bags, which says the ban will reduce litter and have positive impacts on biological and water resources.  

The cities of Santa Barbara and Carpinteria already have similar single-use bag bans in effect, as does neighboring San Luis Obispo County and its cities.

Goleta’s City Council participated in the same environmental impact studies as Santa Barbara and Carpinteria, but decided to delay a vote until the statewide ballot measure is decided.

Noozhawk managing editor 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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