Newport Beach council disregards plastic bag ban

Newport Beach will not consider a ban on single-use plastic bags because it's a low priority to City Council members, the council decided Tuesday.

Mayor Pro Tem Nancy Gardner asked if the council would ask the city's Environmental Quality Affairs Committee (EQAC) to study a plastic bag ban.

The matter first came up at a September City Council meeting but was postponed so the item could be placed on an agenda. Gardner said that students from Newport Harbor High School at a meeting held earlier this fall asked if the committee would consider studying a ban.

Had the council agreed, EQAC members at a future meeting would have discussed the ban as a second agenda item.

"Their approach has been very measured," Gardner said. "It's not simply one perspective. It's a pretty good cross-section of our city."

Councilman Ed Selich said he would not support staff time being spent on a committee study of a ban.

"I think our staff resources are stretched right now," he said. "I have other priorities."

Councilman Keith Curry said he objected because he worried dog owners would not be able to use plastic bags to pick up their animals' waste, which could result in dog messes not being cleaned.

"We don't know the economic impact," Councilwoman Leslie Daigle added.

Councilman Rush Hill said he also would not support it.

"Let sleeping dogs lie," Councilman Steve Rosansky said.

The issue will not go away, according to Stephanie Barger, executive director of the Earth Resource Foundation.

"It's not a threat, it's a reality," she told the council. "We're not going anywhere. This is incredibly important for the environment."

Barger said she could provide economic impact information and legal analysis so that a ban could become law without draining staff resources. She said dog owners would have plenty of bags to use for collecting waste, even if grocers stopped using plastic bags.

"People use that as a cop out," she said. "There's tons of other plastic bags."

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