En­vi­ron­men­tal groups sue over bag ban re­peal

Los Angeles Times - - THE STATE - By An­thony Clark Car­pio an­tho­nyclark.car­pio@la­times.com

Three en­vi­ron­men­tal groups are su­ing Hunt­ing­ton Beach, claim­ing that the city un­jus­ti­fi­ably re­pealed its ban on sin­gle-use plas­tic shop­ping bags.

The Hunt­ing­ton Beach/ Seal Beach chap­ter of the Surfrider Foun­da­tion, Costa Mesa-based Or­ange County Coast­keeper and Sacra­mento-based Cal­i­for­ni­ans Against Waste filed a claim this week in Or­ange County Su­pe­rior Court, stat­ing that the city failed to pre­pare a proper en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact re­port an­a­lyz­ing the ef­fects of lift­ing the ban, said An­gela Howe, an at­tor­ney rep­re­sent­ing the groups.

The city “did a 10-page ad­den­dum to the orig­i­nal en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact re­port, which was is­sued with the 2013 bag ban it­self,” she said. “The ad­den­dum breezes through all the is­sues and doesn’t put any anal­y­sis into what the real harm will be” from the re­peal.

Howe said the city states in the ad­den­dum that about 99 mil­lion sin­gle-use plas­tic bags would be re­cir­cu­lated into the city. The non­prof­its want the city to re­scind the re­peal and con­duct a full en­vi­ron­men­tal anal­y­sis of the pos­si­ble ef­fects of lift­ing the ban.

The re­peal “is def­i­nitely a step back­ward in terms of en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion,” Howe said. “But what’s worse is the way the city went about re­peal­ing it. They just disregarded their du­ties un­der the Cal­i­for­nia En­vi­ron­men­tal Qual­ity Act.”

Hunt­ing­ton Beach City Atty. Michael Gates said that the groups’ claim is “the same ba­sis as any en­vi­ron­men­tal re­port chal­lenge” and that there is “noth­ing sig­nif­i­cant to the chal­lenge.”

The city’s plas­tic bag ban, as well as a 10-cent fee for us­ing pa­per bags, went into ef­fect in Novem­ber 2013 as a way to re­duce lit­ter, es­pe­cially at the beach.

Many res­i­dents con­sid­ered the ban gov­ern­ment over­reach, and the City Coun­cil fi­nal­ized its re­peal May 4. The re­peal went into ef­fect last week.

The re­peal process be­gan in Jan­uary when Coun­cil­man Mike Posey, who was elected in Novem­ber along with three other new coun­cil mem­bers, pro­posed it in light of a statewide ef­fort backed by about 800,000 res­i­dents to place a ref­er­en­dum about the state’s plas­tic bag ban on the Novem­ber 2016 bal­lot.

Hunt­ing­ton Beach, he said this week of the re­peal, “should have not banned the bags in the first place be- cause there were no en­vi­ron­men­tal rea­sons to en­act a bag ban and there were no met­rics to mea­sure its ef­fi­cacy. This isn’t about the en­vi­ron­ment.”

In March, As­sem­bly­man Matthew Harper (R-Hunt­ing­ton Beach) in­tro­duced two bills aimed at re­peal­ing the statewide bag ban as well as the 10-cent fee on pa­per bags.

Kim­berly White Getty Images

A MAN car­ries a sin­gle-use plas­tic bag in San Fran­cisco on Sept. 30, 2014, the same day Gov. Jerry Brown signed the na­tion’s first statewide ban on the bags.

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