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Support grows for plastic-bag ban in Sonoma County

Support for a countywide ban on carry-out grocery plastic bags continued to grow this week as two more cities and the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors endorsed the concept.

Seven cities and the county now have agreed to take steps toward a countywide ordinance limiting single-use bags under a proposal from the Sonoma County Waste Management Agency.

The focus is on banning the ubiquitous plastic grocery bags and placing a nominal fee on paper bags, so that consumers don't simply switch to paper.

Ultimately, the goal is a consumer shift to reusable bags to cut down on litter and other environmental impacts.

“It's come of age and it's time to move forward,” said Healdsburg City Councilman Gary Plass prior to voting along with his colleagues to support single-use, carry-out bag restrictions.

On Tuesday, Sonoma County supervisors unanimously endorsed the work on the bag limitations.

Supervisors Shirlee Zane, Mike McGuire and Efren Carrillo expressed the strongest support, with McGuire saying that plastic bags especially were a blight on the landscape.

Rules that ban plastic bags and put a fee on paper bags have been adopted by more than a dozen cities, including San Francisco, San Jose and Santa Monica, and Santa Clara, Marin and Los Angeles counties.

Still, Supervisors Valerie Brown and David Rabbitt expressed concern about the impact of new rules on consumers and on non-profit agencies that rely on single-use bags.

Both wanted assurances that the board and cities would get first say over eventual draft rules before they headed to the Sonoma County Waste Management Agency for approval. Under the initial proposal, the rules would have needed only the unanimous approval of the waste agency, a joint-powers body made up mostly of non-elected representatives of each of the nine cities and the county.

“For me it's about the process and not feeling comfortable with it," said Rabbitt. “We're the (county's) legislative body.”

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