9/9/2011 -- San Mateo County may jump on plastic bag ban bandwagon 
 
By Bonnie Eslinger 
Palo Alto Daily News 
 
San Mateo County could become the latest local government to declare certain plastic 
bags evil and ban their use at all retail stories in unincorporated communities. 
 
The Board of Supervisors will hold a meeting Sept. 27 to gather public comment about 
the proposed ban, which picked up steam when the California Supreme Court ruled in 
favor of a Southern California city, Manhattan Beach, that prohibited plastic bags without 
first doing a full environmental study. 
 
"A lot of cities were waiting for that decision" before proceeding with their own plastic 
bans, said Bill Chiang, a legislative aide for board Vice President Adrienne Tissier, who 
along with board President Carole Groom is spearheading the county's effort. 
 
They and others say the ubiquitous lightweight bags need to be eliminated because they 
are not biodegradable and frequently end up in waterways, harming marine wildlife that 
ingest or are entangled by them. 
 
Banning the bags is "the right thing to do" for the environment, Groom said. "I've 
participated in a lot of Bayfront cleanups and the amount of plastic that we find during 
those cleanup days is insane," she said. 
 
Dean Peterson, director of the county's environmental health department, said the 
proposed ban would affect all retail establishments, including restaurants and department 
stores. But only the handled bags filled with store contents at the cash register would be 
banned, he said. To avoid a "sanitation health issue," produce and meat baggies would 
still be allowed. 
 
"When you've got purchases that get put in any bag, that's what we're looking at," 
Peterson said. 
 
County Counsel John Beiers said his staff is compiling options for the board based on the 
different bans passed by other counties and cities, as well as the different types of bags 
available. 
 
Some Peninsula cities are also considering plastic bag bans. Millbrae, for example, is 
developing an ordinance similar to those passed in Manhattan Beach, Long Beach and 
Santa Clara County, said Ron Popp, the city's public works director. 
 
San Carlos also is drafting a possible ban, said Brian Moura, the city's assistant manager.  
Manhattan Beach had been sued by a coalition of plastic bag makers and retail outlets 
that argued an environmental study was needed to determine whether a ban of plastic 
bags would result in the use of more paper bags, which they contend are also subject to 
environmental concerns.