WatchSonoma Watch

Low turnout, but high support at meetings on countywide plastic bag ban


Forums held throughout Sonoma County on a proposal to ban plastic bags drew few participants, but those who did attend voiced near unanimous support.

“I can’t explain the lack of response, whether it is people generally accepting it or not knowing about the meetings,” said Patrick Carter, spokesman for the Sonoma County Waste Management Agency. “The people that did show up were supportive.”

Only 75 people attended nine meetings held in each of Sonoma County’s cities in March. Of those, 70 people voiced support and five spoke in opposition.

The agency is considering legislation modeled after ordinances in other cities that ban carry-out plastic bags and place a 10-cent fee on each paper bag.

The results of the hearings will be given to the agency’s 10-member board at 9 a.m. Wednesday at the Santa Rosa City Council chambers.

Carter said any proposal for an ordinance would not be made before the next meeting on May 16.

The waste management agency needs unanimous agreement from its members, the nine cities and Sonoma County. Rohnert Park is the only city that has not indicated support, Carter said.

Mayor Jake Mackenzie said the issue has not come back before the council since it ws discussed last year. He describes support by some Rohnert Park council members as “lukewarm.”

Carter said Santa Rosa has not taken a formal position, but indications from a study session indicate support.

The intent of the ordinance is to shift consumers to reusable bags to reduce litter, conserve space in landfills and address other environmental impacts.

Officials estimate that nearly 300 million plastic and paper bags are used in Sonoma County every year.

Ordinances banning plastic bags already have been adopted by six California counties, including Marin, Alameda and Santa Clara, and 35 cities, including San Francisco and San Jose.

17 Responses to “Low turnout, but high support at meetings on countywide plastic bag ban”

  1. Vowel Movement says:

    My position is rather simple, and indisputable. To accept data from a biased source as “fact” is to ask to be misled. There is a very good reason for the phrase, “healthy skepticism”.

    Graham offered as up as “fact” information offered by American Plastics Manufacturing, the very people who make the plastic bags that are in dispute, and I called him on it. Nothing more.

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  2. Missy says:

    Everyone recycles their plastic bags now. WHAT IS THE PROBLEM NANNY STATE LOVERS? I wish the libs would LEAVE!

    Ok maybe their precious “low income housing dwellers” & “Illegal Aliens” don’t but the rest of us DO!

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  3. Reality Check says:


    I doubt you do business with anyone that doesn’t have a vested interest in the outcome, i.e, thye are biased. Are so you disbelieving of everyone? One hopes not. All information should be evaluated on its merits.

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  4. Vowel Movement says:

    RC and Graham… any evidence offered by any entity that clearly stands to gain from said evidence is prima facie biased. That’s not to say that the evidence is wrong, but that it comes from a biased source raises a credibility question. That being the case, why offer it when there’s other data available? It’s akin to believing a liar. They may be telling the truth, but they’re still a liar.

    Graham… it was not my intent to offer any evidence in support of or against the banning of bags… only to point out that the data you offered came from a clearly biased source. You’re normally more thorough than that.

    On a lighter note, and on a fundamentally immature level, I find it hilarious that RC jumps to defend Graham’s honor. He’s obviously an intelligent person and is quite capable of defending his own honor. Thank you for the chuckle.

    Liz.. thank you, I did find that data more believable that that coming from the plastic bag manufacturer. Much appreciated!

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  5. sally hopkins says:

    If you want to discuss landfills..how about discussing the number of “disposable diapers” infant, toddler, and adult that are deposited each day in the land fills. Plastic filled with human waste product. Hmmm, why are they not a subject of being banned?

    I reuse the plastic bags I get at the store .I will volunterly give up my plastic bags when those who use disposable diapers go back to cloth diapers and do what we plastic bag users are being asked to do……wash and reuse…..You know there were many generations who did same with diapers…..wash and reuse…….Think about it..if they want to ban plastic bags, how about banning those nasty dirty disposable diapers?

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  6. Mork says:

    I wonder how mnay of the 70 supporters were from Sebastopol? Nanu nanu…

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  7. Liz says:

    “The results of the hearings will be given to the agency’s 10-member board at 9 a.m. Wednesday at the Santa Rosa City Council chambers.”

    Does this mean the same Wed that this article was posted here? are we to late? did we miss this meeting? way to let the people know in advanced. guess they really don’t want we the people of this county to have a say.
    Although if we did get a chance to voice our concerns I am sure it would be the same as usual in one ear and out the other with them.

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  8. Money Grubber says:

    I recall once standing next to a highway and viewing a fence stretching for about two miles distant. The wind was blowing.

    The fence was tangled with plastic bags that had blown across the landscape.

    That told me that, perhaps, plastic bags are not the best idea when paper degrade quickly in moisture and reusable bags are actually cheaper for everyone involved. Plastic does not degrade well.

    Go digging in any property developed over recent decades & you will find landscaping plastic and plastic water pipes 40 or 50 years old.

    Just a thought. No environmental chants from me. Just practical thoughts.

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  9. Graeme Wellington says:

    The accusation of bias is weightless when the facts and logic presented are verifiable. Please explain how a bias affects plastic bag use and reuse? How does a bias explain the complete and total absence of evidence of even a single marine mammal being harmed? Why must facts, logic, reason and evidence be ignored because you claim a spokesperson is biased. Provide just one example for the link where a fact presented is negated by bias perceived or real?

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  10. Reality Check says:


    I think if you’re going to accuse GW of offering a site with shoddy evidence, then you should at least provide a sample.

    Sometimes business, knowing people are likely to distrust what they say, goes to great lengths to make sure their facts are facts. I wish I could say the same about our local politicians.

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  11. Vowel Movement says:

    RC. What the prohibitionists have or have not offered in the way of evidence to support their position is irrelevant to my comments directed at Graham. That one side offers shoddy and biased evidence does not justify the other side doing the same thing. Someone has to offer unbiased data so that we can each make up our minds for ourselves.

    That the general public is gullible and susceptible to manipulation is true. With everyone taking advantage of this for the purpose of selling their position, who are we to believe anymore?

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  12. Reality Check says:


    What facts have the prohibitionists offered? With the media often acting as little more than a public relations outlet of the current cause celebre, business sources are sometimes the only option available for alternative information.

    In any case, this ban reeks of hubris, wishful and shallow thinking, and an unwillingness to consider the likely unintended consequences.

    In the 90s, Ashland, Oregon, joined the bandwagon and banned styrene containers, including packaging at meat counters. So, the local Albertson’s received their styrene-packaged meat, unwrapped it, tossed away the styrene, and repackaged all in white cardboard. This went on for several years.

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  13. Vowel Movement says:

    C’mon Graham… you’re posting “facts” as submitted by American Plastic Manufacturing company… the maker of plastic bags? Really? I’m all for knowing the facts, but an unbiased source would be lovely.

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  14. Graeme Wellington says:

    Plastic Bag Myths:


    Is Sonoma County Waste Management interested in the facts? It doesn’t seem like it. Seems to me they are pandering to the uninformed. Are we going to have forums on vaccinations now too? The list of stupid things people believe is endless. Eighty percent of you reading this believe in angels. Public forum on angels anyone?

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  15. Liz says:

    hmmm never heard about these meetings in March. I had no idea and would have been more than happy to show up and voice my opinion, but now that I hear about it after the fact I guess it’s too late.
    I am not happy with using reusable bags because it is not sanitary for your groceries, such as meats and veggies. And I always reuse my plastic bags many times for many things, and recycle.

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  16. Up From The Street says:

    So called public meetings like the ones described in this article are not really “public meetings.”

    Of course only the supporters of banning plastic bags show up. They have an axe to grind. The same thing happens at city council meetings in Santa Rosa and the Board of Supervisors.

    The government agency then uses the meetings to show that support for banning plastic bags, or pick your issue, is overwhelming and bags are banned or the government issue is adopted.

    This is all a setup. Plastic bags are not in the forefront of the public mind. Most people don’t give it a thought. They just want to get their groceries in a plastic or paper bag, their choice, and get out of the store.

    There are many, many more important issues than plastic bags, but it is a typical issue for a few to claim it suddenly an environmental hazard so it needs to be regulated, banned and bags taxed.

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