Plastic bag ban advances in Pasadena

Pasadena officials have moved forward with a plastic bag ban that will require grocers, convenience stores and vendors to stop offering plastic bags and to charge 10 cents for paper bags.

Officials have unanimously approved a recommendation that an ordinance be drafted within 60 days; then the City Council will vote.

The planned ordinance has been in the works for four years, Councilwoman Margaret McAustin said. She added that she’s noticed that public opinion on plastic bag bans has changed.

“When we first started in 2007, there seemed to be a lot of opposition,” McAustin said. “In these intervening years, it’s a wave coming forward, such a change in public opinion that really says a lot about these initiatives.”

Pasadena officials tailored the proposed ordinance after Los Angeles County’s ban, which was adopted in November 2010.


Restaurants are exempt because of contamination concerns. Stores required to provide plastic carryout bags, such as those that sell meat, are also immune, officials said.

Offenders would receive a warning on the first violation, followed by a fee, then a higher fee for a third violation, said Ursula Schmidt, the city’s sustainability affairs manager.

The law allows recyclable paper bags to be distributed free of charge at farmers markets, city-sponsored events, events held at city facilities, and events held on city property.

The 10-cent charge for a paper bag will be waived for shoppers who use food stamps or Women, Infants and Children coupons.

Councilman Chris Holden questioned why retailers such as bookstores and clothing stores will be exempt.

“We did not include clothing stores and restaurants because the largest distribution happens at food and grocery stores,” Schmidt said.

Ellis Sterling was one of more than 10 people who spoke in favor of the ban and said the restriction will encourage other cities.

“No civilization in human history has collapsed for a lack of a means to convey small goods to their abodes,” Sterling said. “However, civilizations have failed for abusing their environment and depleting their resources.”