Shoppers in Huntington Beach may not have to carry reusable bags or purchase paper ones at the grocery store anymore.
After six minutes of discussion, the Huntington Beach City Council voted 6 to 1 on Monday night to allow stores to use plastic carryout bags, taking a step toward reversing a ban that was enacted in 2013.
The repeal comes back to the City Council on May 4 for a procedural second vote before going into effect 30 days after.
If it passes, Huntington Beach will be the first California city to repeal a plastic bag ordinance.
California voters in November 2016 will be asked if they want to repeal the statewide ban on plastic bags, which hasn’t even gone into effect.
Council Member Mike Posey, who led the charge to repeal the ban in Huntington Beach, said his intention was not really about the environment but about freedom of choice. He said it’s not government’s job to impose retail prices on paper bags or prohibit a product like plastic bags, which aren’t illegal.
“Where do we stop,” he said. “Do we stop with plastic bags? Do we go to diapers? Do we go to plastic bottles? What’s next?”
Posey campaigned on repealing the ban.
Mayor Jill Hardy cast the lone dissenting vote. She told the council the public deserved more time to review and comment on the environmental impact report.
“Sometime there will be an EIR on a subject that you care about and you will be upset that the public didn’t get much time to go over it and that you didn’t get time to go over it,” Hardy said.
In an updated report, city staff said lifting the ban could lead to a jump in the number of plastic bags in use each year from about 5.1 million to 104 million.