Bag Ban x 10 = Sonoma County

scwma_logoThere is a chance 10 Sonoma County jurisdictions could pass a bag ban at the exact same moment. Synchronizing watches is not involved. What is involved is the Sonoma County Waste Management Agency (SCWMA).

SCWMA is a joint powers authority (JPA) comprised of the nine incorporated cities and the County of Sonoma charged with solid waste disposal. As a JPA they can pass ordinances that apply to all member jurisdictions, like garbage disposal rates. In this case SCWMA is pursuing bag regulation.

The benefit of this approach is SCWMA would perform only one EIR and pass only one ordinance which saves time and money. The alternative is each jurisdiction performing their own environmental review and drafting their own ordinance at a cost of over $2 million. For grocers it provides instant regional consistency eliminating cross border competition concerns.

SCWMA representatives agreed at their May meeting to check-in with their home jurisdictions to gauge willingness to proceed. An ordinance banning use of plastic bags at checkout and requiring a retailer retained charge on paper, similar to San Jose, is the current proposal. By August we should know which jurisdictions are interested and who is not. It is important to note a unanimous vote is required for the SCWMA to enact an ordinance of this type.