There’s no flap about plastic bags in La Cañada Flintridge. Despite bans in Glendale, Pasadena, Los Angeles and unincorporated cities of Los Angeles County, plastic bags remain legal here.
However, as of Jan. 1, some Ralphs grocery stores, including the store at 521 Foothill Blvd., ended the practice of offering the controversial bags, instead giving shoppers paper bags.
Some customers complained the store was charging 10 cents apiece for paper bags, a policy not in line with Ralphs stores in communities that don’t have ordinances against plastic bags.
The customers said store employees blamed a nonexistent city ordinance for the erroneous charges.
One of those customers was City Councilman Donald Voss.
“I experienced it first-hand. I was told it was the city ordinance, and that is completely false. They also say it’s the county. The answer is it’s Ralphs,” Voss said Tuesday. “We absolutely positively do not have anything to do with it. I was irritated Ralphs had the temerity to tell people it was the city. It had absolutely nothing to do with La Cañada. It was a corporate decision.”
Kendra Doyel, spokeswoman with Ralphs Grocery Co., acknowledged that some customers may have been erroneously charged 10 cents apiece for paper bags, but said that situation would be rectified.
“Customers that were mistakenly charged for paper bags at our Ralphs location in La Cañada will see a refund for those charges on their receipt the next time they shop,” Doyel said. “We apologize for any confusion or inconvenience this may have caused our customers at this single location, as it is not part of a local ordinance to ban plastic bags currently.”
Doyel said Ralphs does charge for paper bags in some communities where plastic bags are banned.
“Customers are only being charged for bags in municipalities in California that have bans in place. So, for example, L.A. (city) just went on a ban on Jan. 1 and we must charge in those areas. If there is not a ban in a city, we do not charge. It can vary by city — that tends to be part of the issue. I believe there are over 80-plus ordinances in California and when you operate in multiple cities, consistency for consumers in this area is tough.”
Doyel said there are 228 Ralphs stores in Southern California alone.
She said all the confusion may be temporary because there is legislation proposed in Sacramento for a statewide ban. Authored by State Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Van Nuys), SB405 would prohibit most stores from providing single-use plastic bags by Jan. 1, 2015, according to the state senator’s website.
The La Cañada Flintridge City Council was asked by citizens to consider a citywide plastic bag ban in September but not enough support was mustered to take up discussion on the matter.
“Me and (Mayor) Laura Olhasso voted to study the issue and the committee did not want to look at it,” Councilman Jonathan Curtis said Tuesday. “It has not been considered. There is not a plastic bag ban in the city of La Cañada."
Follow Tim Traeger on Twitter: @TraegerTim.