Capitola is one step closer to banning plastic bans thanks to the decision made by the city council Thursday night.
The council voted unanimously to pass an ordinance banning single-use plastic bags at retail stores in the city limits, mirroring ordinances passed in Watsonville and in the unincorporated county earlier this year.
To become law, the ordinance will have to pass a second reading at an upcoming meeting. Should it pass again, it will go into effect 90 days later.
In a public hearing at the council meeting, eight members of the community spoke in favor of the ban while one opposed it. The one man vocally against the ban said he is a retired NASA physicist.
"This is a crusade with little scientific data," he said. "We need a dose of reality. ... This is too important to leave to emotion and not to do the science. ... Bag bans have been failing miserably."
Yet Laura Kasa, executive director of Save Our Shores, said she recently stood outside Safeway in Soquel for an hour and found 78 percent of shoppers either used no bags or reusable bags.
Earlier this year, several local businesses, including Nob Hill Foods, voluntarily enacted a plastic bag ban for the sake of environmental friendliness. According to Councilmember Dennis Norton, Nob Hill Foods reported no increase in the use of paper bags since they stopped using plastic bags.
The ban would not apply to restaurants or to loose items bagged in a grocery store prior to checkout, like produce or bulk foods.
A second part of the ordinance which would put a 25¢ charge on paper bags at retails stores also passed, but by just a 3-2 margin with councilmembers Mike Termini and Sam Storey opposing. Termini argued that Safeway is already factoring paper bag price into its food costs. According to Assistant City Manager Lisa Murphy, the paper bag charge would not apply to low income shoppers.
The ban has seen massive support from the Capitola community. According to KASA, 470 people signed a Save Our Shores petition in support of the ban. Over on the Capitola-Soquel Patch Facebook Page, locals have shown unanimous backing for the ban.
What do you think? Should plastic bags be erased from Capitola? Are you okay paying 25¢ for paper bags? Tell us in the comments!