Monday, July 25, 2011
In a sudden and bewildering new effort to further manage and regulate people’s lives, the San Luis Obispo County Integrated Waste Management Authority (IWMA) is about to pass an ordinance prohibiting stores from using plastic and paper grocery bags. This behind the scenes quasi autonomous public agency, governed by the five County Supervisors and representatives of the various city councils, has directed its staff to prepare an ordinance which would make it illegal for large supermarkets, pharmacies, and big box stores to provide merchandise bags for their customers. Stores would be required to offer reusable cloth bags for sale to their customers. Failure to comply would result in $1000 per day fines and $1000/ six months in jail criminal penalties for store owners and managers.
This is being justified primarily on the grounds that the small grocery bags get loose at the County landfill and are blown all over by the wind, which results in higher labor costs to hire pickers to chase them down. No analysis is provided by the Authority about the marginal cost   of capturing bags or how it compares with the real new dollar costs, inconvenience, and lost time in peoples’ lives engendered by the proposed ordinance.  A second justification is that a few irresponsible people fail to cover their loads on the drive to the landfill, and the bags blow out and litter the roadside. This seems strange because no loads can be accepted at the landfill scale unless they are covered. Littering is already illegal and there are substantial fines.
Fifth District County Supervisor James Patterson, who currently chairs this environmentally slanted Authority, is a forceful and committed ideological supporter of this latest politically correct copycat boondoggle. Citizens will have to purchase or otherwise acquire the reusable bags in sufficient numbers to handle their normal purchasing patterns. If citizens forget to place the bags in their car or make an unplanned trip to the store, they will have to buy additional bags. People who do not drive, cannot afford a car, or who use mass transit will have to lug the bags to work or school in order to pick up groceries on the way home. Imagine the single working mom who has to work the full day, pick up children at day care, run errands, and then make sure that she has a sufficient number of bags when she stops at the store, before she can cook dinner. Of course the stores will be glad to sell the bags and save the money of providing what is now built into the total competitive price picture. They will be able to use the excuse that “the County mandates the cost."
Worse yet, this is moving forward without the Board of Supervisors or the separate city councils publicizing the issue and holding hearings in their own chambers to gauge their particular communities’ local position on this latest effort to manage people’s lives. The item is scheduled to be heard by the Authority on September 14, 2011, at 1:30 PM in the County Board of Supervisors Chambers at 1055 Monterey Street, San Luis Obispo.
COLAB strongly urges you to oppose this pre-emptive strike and demand that your Mayor and City Council hold a local public hearing in your city hall and that city representatives be forbidden to vote on this until such hearings have taken place. Demand that the Board of Supervisors also schedule a separate public hearing on their public agenda before voting in their role as Authority members.
Current Directors are Jim Patterson, County; Ted Ehring, City of Pismo Beach; Tim Brown, City of Arroyo Grande; Tom O’Malley, City of Atascadero; Phyllis Molnar; City of Grover Beach; Carla Borchard, City of Morrow Bay; John Hamon, City of Paso Robles; John Ashbaug, City of San Luis Obispo; Bruce Gibson, County; Adam Hill, County; Frank Mecham, County; Paul Teixeira, County; and Greg O’Sullivan, Special Districts. You can contact them and voice your opposition at Directors@IWMA.com
Perhaps those who are pushing this ordinance should put it on the ballot as a referendum in June, 2012, and give the voters a chance to decide.
Mike Brown, Director of Government Affairs of the Coalition of Labor, Agriculture, and Business of San Luis Obispo County
Posted at 12:53 PM By admin | Permalink | Email this Post | Comments (0)

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