BAG BAN: Residents Ask Beach Commission For Plastic Bag Ban For Local Stores

The Beach Commission is considering all options on the table after "overwhelming" public support for the idea of banning plastic bag use by local stores.

Mayor-Elect Undine George said, "I was on the fence with this issue a bit... However I've been extremely educated on the science through this process. Also I was overwhelmed by the fact that I received more outreach on this issue, than any other issue in my 7 year term." She continued, "Of all of that overwhelming contact I've only received a total of three people expressing any negative."

rich obrien said that Publix reached out to him and said they would be interested in participating, should the community decide they would like to try and implement the ban. obrien's credibility appears to always be in question by locals, so who knows if this interaction between the grocery store and the former Mayor actually even happened.

Commissioner Maggie Kostka is ahead of the curve on this, as all of the materials at her store (Coneheads Ice Cream) are recyclable and completely compostable, "Except for the spoons and straws."

There are legal issues involved however. A letter to commissioners stated that there is a current lawsuit in court on this issue in Coral Gables.

St. Augustine's newest Commissioner, Don Samora asked city lawyers, "Have we done any assessment on what it could possibly cost to defend [Against lawsuits]?... What would be potential exposure to the city?"

"Fees could easily run $15,000 - $20,000 or higher." Answered the city's attorney.

"There is a state statue that protects the retailers from having cities do this in Florida, and that was attacked as being unconstitutional" he added.

Commissioners agreed that it would be best to offer a voluntary option to local businesses until the Coral Gables lawsuit reached a ruling, in order to avoid possible time in court for the city, as well as the costs included in that process.

Commissioner Margaret England came up with the not so catchy on the spot idea of, "Pick a month, ban the bag" where they would ask local stores to voluntarily engage in some form of plastic bag ban for a month. While the slogan may not ultimately work, it seems to be a plausible idea considering the pending suit.

Commissioners loosely chose the month of April to test the bag ban project. Running a trial of the program at time of year would give them a good idea of the reaction they would receive from locals and tourists as well.

Mayor-Elect Undine George recommended that if people are passionate on this issue, to reach out to the city manager and make your voice heard.

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