Petition drive to repeal bag ban begins

A Huntington Beach resident has started a petition to repeal the city’s ban on plastic bags.

Real estate agent Frank LoGrasso, 55, said he has never started a signature drive before, but he opposes the law the prohibits convenience stores, supermarkets and other businesses from distributing plastic bags.

“This is really not what I do — I don’t do this kind of stuff,” LoGrasso said. “But obviously there’s something there that made me put out the effort to get the awareness of this out.”

Lo Grasso said he believes in the free market. He dislikes any ordinance that tells businesses how to treat their customers. He also opposes the fee charged for paper bags, which he views as a tax.

The ordinance requires that customers either bring their own reusable bags or pay 10 cents for a paper bag.

“If the grocery stores wants to charge for this bag, let them. I’ve got no problem with it,” LoGrasso said. “But when you fix the price, you’re taking the competition out of it.”

Mayor Matthew Harper, who has opposed the ban, said he’s been receiving emails from angry residents and supports

the petition drive.

“I recognize in Huntington Beach that [collecting the signatures] is a high hurdle to be able to qualify something for the ballot,” he said. “Most ballot measures are usually placed by members of the City Council, but given the consistent level of frustration citizens are having with this issue, the interest on it seems to be gaining, rather than fading away.”

To qualify the ban-repeal proposal for the November ballot, LoGrasso would need 10% of the registered Huntington Beach voters, or 10,940 people, to sign his petition, according to City Clerk Joan Flynn.

The 28-year resident said he’s aware of the difficult path ahead, guessing he’d need to collect 15,000 signatures to make sure he is covered when the city clerk’s office sorts out duplicate names and unregistered voters.

“The City Council has the opportunity to put this on the ballot themselves,” he said. “We shouldn’t have to go through this process.”

Councilwoman Connie Boardman, who supported the plastic-bag ban, said she knows the ordinance is an inconvenience but takes the view that it will have a positive effect on the environment in the long run.

She recognizes that Huntington Beach alone cannot make a dent in stopping plastic-bag pollution.

“But the idea that Huntington is joining dozens of other cities in the state hopefully will help the state to ban these plastic bags and require reusable bags,” Boardman said. “That will make a huge difference in the amount of plastic that ends up in the ocean.”

Boardman, a biology professor at Cerritos College, said plastic bags break down into small pieces and are then consumed by fish and other sea creatures.

“That provides a pathway for those chemicals to get into our diet,” she said. “That’s not a good thing to be eating.”