Martinez Mayor's Message
Jan 30, 2015 04:03PM ● Published by Jennifer Neys
by Rob Schroder, Mayor of Martinez
Plastic Bag Ban
If you have been to the grocery store in the last month, you no longer hear that familiar phrase from the courtesy clerk, “Paper or plastic?” The question now is, “Did you bring your reusable bag or would you like to buy a paper bag for 10 cents?”
Yes, like it or not, as of January 1, single-use plasic bags are banned in the City of Martinez. Over 100 cities statewide have adopted similar bans on these bags. This includes Contra Costa cities such as Pleasant Hill (on February 4), Walnut Creek , Pittsburg, Richmond, El Cerrito and San Pablo. Alameda County adopted its ban in 2012. Plastic single-use bags will be banned throughout the State of California as of July 1, 2015.
The use of polystyrene (styrofoam) containters was banned in Martinez back in 2009, but it was never enforced. In conjunction with the plastic bag ban, the ban on polystyrene is now being enforced.
After several workshops with businesses and the community, the city council held a public hearing in early June of last year and adopted the plastic bag ban. Because we wanted to do extensive outreach and eduction with the public, it was decided to delay the implementation of the ban until the beginning of 2015.
During those 6 months, city staff conducted a comprehensive education program with the community on the new guidelines, educated middle and high school students, and met with business owners, residents, and property owners. Main Street Martinez and the Martinez Chamber of Commmerce were very helpful in getting the word out.
At a recent trip to my local grocery store, I asked the clerk how his customers were adapting to the new regulations. He told me that 2/3 of his customers were aware of the new ban and supported the change. The other 1/3 were surprised and had no idea of the new ordinace. Most were supportive of the new move, and only a handful expressed opposition, with one or two being very upset at the change.
The most interesting comment the clerk made to me was, “In three months, most people will be used to bringing in their reusable bags and the question of ‘paper or plastic’ will be a phrase that only those over thirty will remember.”
On another note, by the time this article is published, we will have announced that we have hired a new city manager. It has been over a year since Martinez has had a permanent city manager, and I am very excited about getting back to work and moving this city forward with a new manager at the helm.
I would like to publicly thank both Assistant City Manager Alan Shear and Deputy Director of Housing and Economic Development Director Anna Gwyn Simpson for their excellent work in filling in as interim city manager for the last year. Both are valuable assets to this city, and I look forward to working with them and the new city manager over the next several years. Both of them have served this city well in a very difficult political environment. Now is the time to put the politics behind us and move this city forward.