SLO council candidates weigh in on plastic bags
October 5, 2012
The League of Women voters asked candidates for San Luis Obispo mayor and city council in a forum Thursday whether they would move to repeal the new countywide plastic bag ban if appointed to the Integrated Waste Management Authority board.
None said they would do so.
Several candidates, however, criticized the IWMA’s ban on the distribution of plastic bags at grocery and large retail stores.
Council candidates Kevin Rice, as well as mayoral candidates Donald Hedrick and Steve Barasch, each said the ban was too punitive.
“I am very uncomfortable that the bag ordinance includes a clause which makes it a misdemeanor,” Rice said. “That’s jail time for a grocer to hand out a plastic sack to the old woman who’s been coming there for 20 years and doesn’t understand what happened on Monday.”
Hedrick agreed that people should not risk misdemeanor charges for distributing bags, but added that public officials should lead by example on ecological issues.
“I personally have picked so many bags out of the fence lines and the bushes that I won’t even hardly take a bag out of the market,” Hedrick said.
Barasch said that “people are scared” because grocery stores could face $1000 fines for plastic bag distribution.
Incumbent councilman Dan Carpenter agreed the ban was too punitive, saying that grocers should not be forced to charge 10 cents for paper bags
But, incumbent council members John Ashbaugh and Mayor Jan Marx, as well as council candidate Jeff Aranguena each said they support the IWMA ban as written.
Ashbaugh, the city’s representative on the IWMA board who voted in favor of the ban, said he would make no apologies for his vote.
Marx said plastic bags create litter and greenhouse gases and even contribute to flooding.
“My utility and public works people are really in favor of this ban because plastic bags especially contribute to flooding,” Marx said. “They end up in our storm drains and water can’t get through.”
Aranguena said the county bag further proved that San Luis Obispo is ahead of the times.
“I think this is what San luis Obispo does. We think ahead,” Aranguena said. “We did this in 1990 with the smoking ban. A lot of people complained at that time, and I think everyone can agree at this point right now smoking in the city is definitely a bad thing”
Candidates also fielded questions on topics ranging from the homeless to their personal voting records. All of the candidates said they had been longtime voters in San Luis Obispo except for Aranguena.
The forum will air repeatedly in the city of San Luis Obispo on Charter Cable Channel 20 until voters take to the polls on November 6.