By BOB NORBERG
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
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.