San Mateo County wants to ban the ubiquitous plastic bag, and its environmental impact assessment could make it a lot easier for other local governments to follow.
The County’s draft ordinance is similar to San Jose’s model which bans plastic bags and puts a minimum price requirement on paper bags. It would apply to unincorporated County areas only.
However, the County is drafting an environmental impact report (EIR) that includes the potential impacts of similar ordinances in its incorporated cities and potentially parts of neighboring Santa Clara County as well. This would remove the cost for smaller jurisdictions that want an individual EIR or other assessment before passing their own bans.
According to the Mercury News, Belmont, East Palo Alto, Foster City, Pacifica, Portola Valley, Redwood City, San Carlos, South San Francisco, and Woodside are all on board with the San Mateo County regional bag ban ordinance effort. Scoping meetings for the EIR start in April.
CAW notes that the California Supreme Court ruled last July that the City of Manhattan Beach did not need an EIR prior to adopting its bag ordinance. This ruling has only led the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition (STPBC) to more "creative" tactics including challenging restaurant bag bans. Despite the Supreme Court ruling, STPBC is even trying to invalidate the Ukiah EIR. We're working to take a stand against this type of industry bullying and hope you will too.