First, some quick background: this ban would only apply to bags at the point of sale for retailers. It would not apply to produce or meat bags. It would not apply to newspaper bags, door hangers, bags distributed for food drives, or any other plastic bag. It strictly applies to retail businesses at the cash register.
After several meetings between City staff and stakeholders (which included the Chamber) City staff had recommended to the ASC that no ordinance be enacted due to some legal questions and due to anticipated costs associated with violation enforcement.
Staff also submitted a proposed ordinance that would have established a ban of single-use plastic bags with voluntary compliance and no enforcement. After lengthy discussion by Committee members and testimony from citizens, the ASC returned the proposed ordinance to staff with instructions to insert penalties of several hundred dollars for each violation of the ban.
This ban would most likely apply to every retailer in the City, from the farmers market booths on up.
The rewritten ordinance will come back to the ASC, and then be forwarded to the full City Council for consideration, probably in June.
I want you to be aware that the Chamber has been engaged in the discussion on this issue since the beginning, with particular emphasis on ensuring any proposed ordinance was fair, did not adversely affect our local businesses, and
allowed adequate time for any type of restriction to be implemented without undue costs to retailers. We will continue to tell the City Council that there may be unintended consequences from the proposal ordinance, and ask that they recognize that local businesses are the cornerstone of a strong local economy. Our local retailers have struggled during the recession, and we feel that unplanned expenses on top of narrow profit margins is an intimely and unfair decision.
We know that the members of the business community are not aligned on this issue, but we believe that protecting businesses from unreasonable costs and regulation is an appropriate position for any business organization to take. Recognizing divergent opinions, we recommend that you make your thoughts known to Council. If you are interested in this issue and wish to share your opinion through the Chamber or directly to the City Council, please contact us. We will help you obtain the correct addresses. However the most effective way to be heard is directly to the City Council, and the method with the most impact is in person. We will post the dates of upcoming meetings, and hope your will share your perspective on this proposal.