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Plastic bag ban unlikely to get on ballot

April 22, 2014|By Anthony Clark Carpio
  • An attempt to get initiative repealing ban of plastic bags has failed so far in Huntington Beach.
An attempt to get initiative repealing ban of plastic… (TIM BERGER / Los…)

An effort to end Huntington Beach's recently adopted ban on plastic bags is failing to gain momentum.

A petition drive has so far fallen short, and Councilman Dave Sullivan's attempt to place the issue on the November ballot failed Monday to garner enough votes from the City Council. Sullivan, Mayor Matthew Harper and Councilman Joe Carchio supported the measure, but it lost on a 4-3 vote after three hours of testimony from about 50 speakers.

"The City Council majority took it upon themselves to mandate changes that fundamentally affect every person that lives and shops in this city," resident Frank LoGrasso said. "The City Council should never have the power alone, without the approval of its citizens, to dictate to an entire sector of the business community how to service their clients."

LoGrasso, 55, attempted to gather enough signatures from voters to place an initiative repealing the bag ban on the November ballot. Since he began his effort in December, however, the local real estate agent has been able to collect only about 1,000 names, far from the required minimum of 10,940.

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Council members can bypass signature gathering and vote to include an issue on the ballot. This, however, would still launch the process of securing an environmental impact report, as well as legal vetting.

Representatives from the Surfrider Foundation told council members that they collect plastic bags whenever they do their monthly beach cleanups.

Tony Soriano, chairman of the Huntington Beach and Seal Beach chapter, said volunteers picked up about 325 pounds of trash two weeks ago, with single-use plastic bags found in the mix.

"Currently, there's over a hundred jurisdictions in California that have already passed the bag ban," he said. "Repealing the bag ban would be a huge step back in the effort of reducing plastic bag litter from Huntington Beach streets, beaches and rivers."

Though many residents said they support the ban, frustrations were aimed at the 10-cent fee on paper bags that grocery stores were mandated to charge customers.

Sullivan said he could relate to LoGrasso's failure to collect enough signatures for a ballot initiative. The councilman helped get Measure C, a city law that prohibits construction on park land of a certain size, on the ballot in 1990. It was the last time residents were able to get an issue on the ballot, he added.

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