The City Council isn’t interested only in banning plastic bags from grocery stores and other businesses that hand them out in high volumes, but from every business in Davis.
On Tuesday, the council had the opportunity to tell staff that it is ready to move forward with implementing an ordinance that would exile about 90 percent of plastic bags from the city.
The ordinance the city’s Natural Resources Commission had drawn up essentially required only grocery stores, convenience stores and pharmacies to discontinue offering the bags.
But Mayor Joe Krovoza and Councilman Brett Lee both seemed to want to extend the ban to all businesses, as both didn’t believe it would be equitable to force only part of the business community to comply.
“I think this is sort of misnamed as this plastic bag ban,” Lee said. “It’s a plastic bag ban if you happen to be a supermarket, drug store or liquor store. There’s a whole broad group of businesses which are not touched by this approach. Are plastic bags bad? Or are they only bad when they come from a supermarket?”
Added Krovoza: “That’s my biggest problem here, which is just the inequity of saying we’re going to do a ban. If you want consistency and you want fairness and you want to treat all businesses equally, then that’s what you do, as opposed to circumscribing who it applies to and who it doesn’t apply to.”
While other council members didn’t express their feelings about a uniform single-use plastic bag ban for the city, the council did agree to have staff come back with a list of potential ordinances with various levels of exemptions, including no exemptions, for the council to choose from.
Staff is scheduled to have those reports soon after the council’s summer recess in August, at which point the council would vote on implementation of the ordinance and likely determine the effective date.
While staff estimated that the ban could be in place by next July, council members appeared eager to have something implemented much sooner.
Meanwhile, Davis residents could be looking to cut down on the trash they generate anyway, as the council unanimously approved Tuesday a proposal for garbage collection rates that would charge residents based on the size of their trash cans.
For 95-gallon garbage bins — by far the most commonly used size in Davis — bills would jump from a flat rate of $30.63 per month to maximum rate of $37.06. Those with 65-gallon bins would be charged a maximum of $31.06 per month and those with 35-gallon cans would pay $28.06.
Staff also presented a five-year rate schedule showing that monthly bills likely will climb about $1 per year no matter the garbage can size.
The council approved only the rates that will be included in Proposition 218 notices, which the city must send out to inform property owners of the proposed increases. Council members will approve the final notices Tuesday and the city will send them out this summer.
If the rate-setting process stays on schedule, the new rates could take effect by Dec. 1.
Both the change in rates and the plastic bag ban fall under an umbrella integrated waste management plan that the council also adopted Tuesday. The plan lays out a series of policies, ordinances and programs the council can implement to drive the city toward its goal of becoming a zero-waste community.
The first year of the multi-year effort to drop the city’s solid waste production also will include a pilot program that will assess the feasibility of having residents put their grass clippings, leaves and other green yard waste in containers, rather than piling it in the gutter for Davis Waste Removal to pick up.
A second program would look at adding food scraps to yard waste containers. Council members all appeared to support expanding both programs to the entire city once the pilots help public works official determine any potential problems with implementation.
As part of the motion to approve the integrated waste management plan, the council also voted to dedicate all of the $500,000 of new revenue the city will receive from Davis Waste Removal this year from a franchise fee to new trash collection efforts in Davis.
— Reach Tom Sakash at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @TomSakash