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Monrovia City Council Overturns Plastic Bag Ban

In a topsy-turvy moment, the Monrovia City Council tonight overturned the plastic carry-out bag ban that it approved at its previous meeting.

It happened like this: The motion that was passed last time came up for a confirmation vote this evening, a process called "second reading" that is usually routine, but in this case two council members were missing, Councilman Larry Spicer and Councilman Alexander Blackburn, both of whom, along with Mayor Mary Ann Lutz, voted to pass the measure at the previous meeting. So, with Spicer and Blackburn missing, Councilman Tom Adams made a motion to reject the plastic bag ban, Councilwoman Becky Shevlin seconded the motion, and the motion carried, with Mayor Lutz voting in opposition. Several people spoke in opposition to the bag ban, and Mayor Lutz said she thought those in opposition were "orchestrated" and that the council should vote on the matter when all five members were present.

- Brad Haugaard


  1. Are we that entitled, Monrovia? My mom's been carrying her own canvas bags around since 1970. Is it so hard to put a few bags in the trunk for when you go to the store? It's the planet we're talking about. The place we live. It takes nonrenewable resources to make those plastic bags, and they will certainly not biodegrade anytime soon.

    1. Unfortunately, the plastic bag ban INCLUDED banning biodegradable bags. Here is from section 8.44.010:

      (E) The term “Plastic carryout bag” refers to any bag made predominately of plastic derived from either petroleum or a biologically-based source, such as corn or other plant sources, which is provided to the customer at the point of sale. “Plastic carryout bag” includes compostable and biodegradable bags, but does not include reusable bags, produce bags, or product bags.

    2. One of the persons who addressed the Reusable Bag Regulation Ad Hoc Committee was an environmental specialist from Athens Services. She explained to us that unless "biodegradable" bags are in an industrial composter, they do not biodegrade. That's the reason they were included.

  2. It appeared to be an ambush in the true sense of the word, and in my opinion, compromised the integrity of the Council. Mayor Pro-Tem Shevlin took advantage of the absence of Council Members Spicer and Blackburn to pull the final motion for adoption from the Consent Calendar. The issue of the reusable bag ordinance had been debated at the last meeting, including lengthy public comment, and the ordinance was adopted by a vote of 3-2.

    I was a member of the ad hoc committee that presented the recommendation for a reusable bag ordinance to the City Council. The recommendation was made following research on the impact of such ordinances on retailers in cities that have instituted similar bans (negligible), the significant harm done to both the environment and wildlife by discarded plastic bags, and the reality that only 5% of plastic bags are actually recycled. While I was in favor of the ordinance and would have been disappointed had it failed, I would have understood and accepted that the process of democracy had nonetheless been served.

    What happened tonight was an insult to the democratic process.

    Pat Johanson

    (Brad posting on behalf of Pat Johanson)

  3. There were many people present who wanted to speak on the issue again. Not pulling it from the consent calendar would have denied them that opportunity (well, strictly speaking they could have commented, but not in a setting focused on that issue). Say what you want about how the vote went down, but merely pulling it from consent does not in anyway indicate a conspiracy. I had several people around town tell me they thought one of the "yes" votes might have flipped, anyway. I suspect this is not the end of this issue.

  4. Plastic bags are a wonder of the modern age and I am sick to death of laws making me live like a third world peasant:

  5. Awesome!! I'm so glad to hear this! I should have been more proactive in my protest of this ban, and will not let my passivity get in the way again. Thank you!

  6. until Duarte and Arcadia ban the use of plastic bag Monrovia can try again on this plastic bag ordinance. What they passed did not make sense at all I can go to Duarte and shop at Walmart or best buy then walk across the street where it is banned without worrying about that stupid law. The other three did not think this law through when they passed it I am happy for what Tom Adams and Becky shevlin did

  7. Wow. I don't really care about this bag ban one way or the other, but I can't believe how dirty this is. And Tom endlessly complains about corrupt Sacramento politicians. It doesn't get dirtier or more undemocratic than this.