Regional Regulation and Minnesota

In preparation for the CGA Board of Directors meeting I pulled out a map and calculator to tally the impact of regional efforts to regulate carryout bags in Northern California. I surprised myself when I saw the final count – 4.8 million people!

As a point of reference 4.8 million people is larger than the State of Alabama and a bit behind the State of Colorado. (Wow!)

To fully understand this number we need to start by defining what “regional” means. In this case it refers a group of neighboring jurisdictions, jurisdictions partnered through a Joint Power Authority, or all jurisdictions within a county. Basically, it is the practice of separate jurisdictions joining together to regulate carryout bags in a similar way.

So why choose regional regulation? The answer is quite simple – time and money. By engaging a regional process the cities and counties involved share the cost and expense of environmental review, create consistency across borders to avoid economic disadvantages, and achieve compliance with regional storm water mandates.

It is interesting to note at the beginning of this year less than 2 million people were being impacted by regional efforts to regulate bags. In the last six months regional efforts have begun in Alameda County, Marin County, Monterey County, San Mateo County, Santa Cruz County, Sonoma County, and Contra Costa County. This list represents the majority of the Northern California coastline and San Francisco Bay Area.

Regional regulation is arguably preferred for the grocery industry. It does mean larger areas under regulation, but also results in greater consistency between jurisdictions. In Alameda County this means one ordinance passed on one vote for all 15 jurisdictions compared with 15 ordinances and 15 votes if each jurisdiction acted alone.

As the legal questions gain clarity and environmental review is completed expect these regions to begin passing ordinances. Many are on target to take votes before the end of 2011. We also expect more jurisdictions to enter into the mix as the year continues.

Forget Colorado. Soon we will be bumping up against Minnesota!