A Word About Bags

Bag Tax Enacted

As you may have heard, Half Moon Bay, along with 11 other cities and unincorporated San Mateo County, have enacted an ordinance governing the circumstances, usage, and charge of bags in retail establishments.

The ordinance facts are:

– Plastic bags are banned from usage (with a few loop holes around food, dry cleaning, and not-for-profit groups.)

– Paper bags manufactured using recycled material will be available for use with a $0.10 charge in 2014, rising to $0.25 in 2015.

So functionally there are 2 sections to the ordinance, 1 outlawing plastic bags and 1 regulating and taxing the use of paper bags.

We agree whole heartedly with section 1 and if anything, wish the loop holes that were included were more severely limited. There is little good that comes from these single use plastic bags and here on the coast, not only do we have to consider land-based pollution, but also water pollution.

On section 2, we advocated a different approach which would have rewarded consumers for employing a reusable bag by providing a discount on their purchase. We believe this approach is aligned with the public interest and charts a more sensible and positive path toward behavior change than the “bag tax” as enacted. (Note: it’s not truly a tax in that businesses keep the bag money – but from a consumer perspective, it’s somewhat irrelevant who keeps the dough – it’s still seen as a tax.)

So, what we’re left with is an ordinance that does some good (most plastic gone) and attempts some positive behavior change while running the risk of alienating visitors. We will certainly comply with the ordinance (we’ve never had plastic and nearly half of our visitors use no bags at all or bring their own already – we have a great set of visitors!)

So please don’t be surprised when we ask you if you’d like a bag with that and inform you of the bag tax if you do.