Residents association stands behind City Council in stalled plastic bag

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Residents association stands behind City Council in stalled plastic bag ban

A watchdog group known for keeping its eyes on city affairs filed a brief supporting City Council’s attempt to ban disposable plastic bags in the city.

The 20-year-old Manhattan Beach Residents Association filed an amicus brief Aug. 6 in the California Supreme Court, joining the city in arguing against the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition, which has been successful in stalling the city’s ban efforts so far.

The coalition first filed a lawsuit in August 2008, one month after City Council approved banning carryout plastic bags at grocery stores, food vendors, restaurants, pharmacies and city facilities. The coalition argued that the city had justified the ban with misleading information and had not completed a thorough environmental impact study. City Attorney Bob Wadden said the city did not feel the impact was substantial enough to warrant an EIR.

The coalition has been successful in Los Angeles County Superior Court and the appellate court in January, which upheld the ruling that the city conduct an EIR.

“Like everyone in Manhattan Beach, we care about our ocean and our environment,” said Michelle Murphy, MBRA president. “We were shocked that the plastic bag industry was able to stop this ordinance.”

In the brief filed by William Benz of the firm Carico Johnson Toomey LLP, the association explains the local angle of the issue, how the plastic bags litter the city’s oceans and beaches, Murphy said.

“Every morning large gas-guzzling raking machines clear litter from our beach including plastic bags that blow across the sand and stick in dune grasses and bushes on their way to the ocean. Just like sea turtles, we sometimes mistake soggy plastic bags for jellyfish as we walk along the beach,” the brief states.

The city’s plastic bag ban might not be off the table yet. The California Supreme Court agreed to hear the city’s case, likely sometime next year.

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