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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

SF's 10 Cent Checkout Bag Ordinance - It's Stupid & Let's Repeal It

Why SF continues to suck, and why I patronize Daly City.
Why I shop in Daly City, SF continues to suck ass.

Starting on Monday, October 1, 2012, a revised city ordinance will change the way we shop and purchase items in San Francisco.

All plastic bags issued by all San Francisco retail establishments will be banned and will only be allowed to give out paper and reusable bags.  The law also requires a minimum ten cent charge per bag given to the customer.

The money collected by the vendors for the bags will be kept for their establishments to compensate for the higher cost of paper bags; none of the money collected will be given to the city.

Fines for non-compliance of the no plastic bag rule and failure to charge a minimum of ten cents per bag will range from $100 to $500 per violation.

On the other hand, restaurants in the city can still issue plastic bags with no fees attached until the ordinance affecting them will kick-in on October 1, 2013.

People can avoid paying the minimum 10 cent per bag charge if they bring their own bag, or do it Costco style by not taking a bag and just stuffing it in their coat pockets.  Those using WIC or Food Stamps are exempt from the 10 cent per bag fee.

Akit's Opinions
I personally think the 10 cent minimum charge per paper or reusable bag law sucks big time.  Why force retailers to charge a ten cent fee when establishments should be making their own choice?  As the city doesn't collect any money from the 10 cent minimum policy, establishments can just decide to absorb the cost or slightly raise the cost per item to compensate for the mandatory use of paper bags.  In the past, IKEA decided to charge for every plastic bag at the checkout, but was not forced with a gun by local city governments to charge a mandatory fee, they did it independently and it worked.  People decided to leave the individual items in their carts (like what many do at Costco) or buy one of their 99 cent huge bags.

The other problem I hate about the 10 cent minimum charge is being told to carry my own bags.  That's fine for me when I drive my car to go shopping as I carry a variety of bags in my trunk for big and small things.  But how about those times I may take the bus and I see in the store window something I like?  Do I carry bags in my coat pocket?  No.  There's no room in my pockets as I have other items like a tissue packet, hand sanitizer, and my glasses case.

It makes practical sense to eliminate plastic bag usage, but sometimes plastic is better than paper; for example, when the ban goes into affect for restaurants, paper bags are not the best item to hold hot food.  When the city banned styrofoam food containers, the new paper containers did not work great on items like steamed rice, spaghetti, and anything that uses some kind of sauce like gravy or curry on rice; the container would get so soggy, you could poke a finger into the container.

I've lived here in San Francisco my entire life and will continue to do so, but I'm getting real tired of the city government and it's Board of Stupidvisors turning us into a nanny state telling us what aspects of our lives should be good and bad.  We had clowns pass a law saying that kids toys can't be free in their fast food meals, and now we're forced to pay a fee for every single shopping bag?

I'll be happy to do one of two things: Vote for any city supervisor candidate who will repeal the 10 cent minimum charge law, or get it repealed by getting it on the ballot.  Angry citizens should unite together and lets kick this city's government's ass.

And while I'm angry, I don't mind continuing to shop in Daly City and Colma, San Mateo County is happy to accept my sales tax money and doesn't have a stupid 10 cent bag charge.

For information about the new ordinance: http://sfenvironment.org/article/prevent-waste/checkout-bag-ordinance


Anonymous said...

I'm a big Lefty but this Bag Law is absurd. I ride a bike & cloth bags are no good to stuff Groceries in to put on the handle bars. I'm for saving the Planet but should I now drive to Safeway??? This is how you create Teabaggers & GOP people.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you. I am now driving to south city to go shopping whenever I can, or buying online. Perhaps the bag fee can be used to "fix" the increased pollution and inevitable loss of jobs in San Francisco retailing.

Anonymous said...

Given that the bag is charged my receipt, why wouldn't it be possible to later return the bag for refund?

Anonymous said...

I understand that some folks don't like the bag tax, but it seems reasonable to me, and some of the complaints I see here and elsewhere seem illogical.

The government is responsible for making laws for the good of the community as a whole. Sometimes these will annoy or hinder some residents and our officials must weigh that against the community benefit they are trying to achieve. I believe the benefit outweighs the inconvenience here. I have already reduced my usage of paper bags from safeway declining double bagging, putting more in each bag, and remembering to take cloth bags with me when I shop. I expect I'm not the only person who has done this. When I have forgotten bags, $0.10 per bag is not so hefty that it makes a difference. I'm glad to see that this fee is not applied to those using food stamps, but I doubt that anyone can tell me that even if they use 10 bags per shopping trip, that they can afford to live in San Francisco, but can't afford $1.00 added to a $100.00 shopping trip.

As for the comments stating that this reduces shopping in the city, while I am aware that consumers do not always act in their best interest, I find it difficult to believe that a majority of shoppers will drive to the grocery store instead of using their bike as the commenter above states, to avoid the $0.10 fee for one bag. They didn't ban paper bags. He can still choose to use one. Similarly, If a shopper so desires not to bring cloth bags, I am equally surprised that someone would drive miles outside the city as opposed to paying for the paper bags at a store in the city. At todays prices, that may be a net negative on gas alone.

The most reasonable complaint I have seen occurs primarily at grocery stores where a shopper doesn't know how many bags they will need. Either the clerk guesses and if they get it wrong, needs to charge the customer a second time for a few bags, or the clerk waits to charge the card until bagging is done, which can slow down already clogged grocery lines.

Overall, if a slight inconvenience creates a large community benefit, I think it is worth it. I'd like to see some data next year on the actual impact and if it has not reduced bag production and usage, then I am happy to discuss that possibility then, but I doubt it will be the case. Also, residents of San Francisco live in one of the few cities in the country which are at the forefront of the environmental movement. If you have chosen to live in San Francisco and truly despise this style of government, I'd suggest that you consider moving to the majority of communities which would never pass such a law instead of trying to repeal it in one of the few places which is a testing ground for environmental progress.

Anonymous said...

So here is the problem I have with this: Awhile ago, we all added compost to our household trash sorting. I'm cool with that, makes sense. I would to go grocery shopping and take about 4-6 paper bags with me every time I went. I would then use those bags to recycle and compost so I didn't have to buy plastic bags. A lot of my friends and neighbors did the same. It was a great system. But now what is happening is that we're buying plastic bags for recycling and "bio degradable" plastic bags for compost. I guess I'm not sure how this helps. It seems like it only increases the need and usage for plastic bags and lessens the convenience of a successful recycling system. Please explain to me how this ordinance helps the efficiency of our recycling/compost system? How does it reduce the use of plastic bags? It seems to me that you're going to have to throw your compost/recycling/garbage away in some sort of bag. Why not make sure that bag is a recycled bag from the local grocery store
without extra charge?

Anonymous said...

The 10 cent bag charge should have been on a ballot to allow the residents to vote. There have been a variety of places I have shopped where I have asked where the extra money is going. You would be surprised most of the clerks state they have been wondering the same thing, and they don't know. I have heard the money is going to the environment, the stores where you make the purchase, someone's pockets. I'm not going to go out of my way to shop outside of SF, but when I make a purchase at Nordstrom, and am asked if I wish to purchase a bag, yes that seems pretty ridiculous because how am I going to get the merchandise home without a bag for clothing. If I'm in my car at a Walgreen's, I ask if I can borrow their basket to throw the merchandise in my trunk if I don't have a bag in the car, and I bring the basket back. To the individual who mentions moving, I will someday when I can afford to do so. I have lived here for over 30 years, and I remember when SF was a great place to live. We have become so liberal here now, that we allow every protest, Critical Mass to upset traffic and bus routes, even the homeless come to SF to live because they tell their friends they have it so good. It's really sad what has happened to this great City.

Anonymous said...

"... I find it difficult to believe that a majority of shoppers will drive to the grocery store instead of using their bike as the commenter above states, to avoid the $0.10 fee for one bag. They didn't ban paper bags. He can still choose to use one...."

You obviously don't ride a bike. Paper bags are not useable on bicycles since they can't be hooked over handle bars. They either don't have handles or are too big.

The other commenter is right, the law is anti-bicyclist. Without plastic bags it's now impossible to purchase a few things while I'm out on my bike. This law negatively impacts the thousands of daily bicyclists in SF.

SF Supes get their panties in a bunch about a gram of petroleum going into a landfill, but oddly don't give a damn about 100 times as much petroleum being burned in a car and polluting the air on a drive to the market. They'd rather get me into my car and do the later.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but if you bother to bike there are a billion bags you can strap on your back or over your shoulder or to your handlebars so you don't have to carry a big brown bag. If you can't plan that far in advance I see no reason why the rest of SF needs to accommodate you. Fortunately most cyclists know better--I personally don't know any cyclists that do not travel with a bag or who stop do do lots of impulse shopping while on the bike.

With regards to repealing the 10cent law, Grow Up! We all have to make accommodations for the greater good, more efficient cars, no littering laws, no smoking in restaurants, etc. There's plenty of room for you in the more sparsely occupied parts of the country to be as selfish as you want. In SF we have one of the densest populations in the US. We have to make concessions the same way roommates or families do when they share a dwelling. Personally I like the lack of plastic bags on the streets now, I love the scarcity of smokers these days, I like that it's reasonably safe to order Fries in a restaurant again.

It takes an incredible amount of hubris to whine about having to pay TEN FREAKING CENTS for a back or carry a messenger bag, wad a plastic bag in your pocket, or Tuck The Darn Book Under Your Arm and carry it to the car. Talk about 1st world problems. Please, take responsibility for the role you take in the daily life of your fellow san franciscans and stop whining about the Incredibly Marginal inconvenience this law has imposed.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't mind the 10 cent bag tax IF I knew exactly what this money is "supposedly" being designated for. To me, it's another way for our elected government officials figuring out ways to "pinch" the California Consumer out of more money.

RepealBagFee said...

I am totally with you.

I do not begrudge if this apply to grocery shopping, which is shopping for necessities, and need not be fancy.

To bring a bag along for "discretionary shopping" to places such as Macys, Banana Republic is unthinkable. Who will stuff their expensive new clothing in recycled bag? What is the pleasure of it?

SF is so over run by the greenies. It is scary to see how far and fast the greenies pushed into many cities and states. We need to do somethings to push back and get our lives back. We need to form a group that we can bounced ideas, and function as a more coherent whole.

A few things we can do right now:

1. Write to the supervisors. (Go to board of supervisors home page to see who they are and their districts). All the advocacy groups has been asking supporters to write and write. We need to feed the supervisors our opinions.

2. Ask our friends and families, and whoever we know to do the same

3. Do not give money to environmental Non-Profits. They probably give grants to each other.

4. Write to supervisors in other cities / counties / states that this is a stupid idea. And it violated our basis right in pursuit of happiness. We should be left alone to live our lives and do our daily activities.

We need to form a group. So that we send out loud message, bounce ideas,keep the steam, and pull resources. Just like what the greenies / advocacy groups have been doing so well.

RepealBagFee said...


This article "The Trendy Drive to Ban Plastic Bags" is authored by Washington Policy Center, a non-profit, non-partisan think tank -- it refuted the sound bites used by the greenies.

Anonymous said...

I think laws like this should be written with a 'prove it works or automatically repeal it' clause.

If it doesn't have the desired effect, or the side effects are worse than the original problem, then it should be taken off the books.

I've spoken with the checkout clerks at the stores I frequent and everyone I've asked has said they hear nothing but complaints about this law. It is an *enormous* inconvenience among other things. If it has a provable benefit, fine, we can all get used to it for the greater good. But if not, the legislature should repeal it and go address some other problem.

Anonymous said...

they're doing entirely the wrong way.

i normally carry bags in car for grocery shopping.

last weekend, i walked by a store when running errand/ so, at a spur of moment, i went in & got a few things.

it was only 3 blocks so i was walking, i did not carry my bags because i did not plan to shop.

now if they start charging me bags, i'd have a lot fewer spur of the moments shopping @ the local stores. cause
in order to avoid the bag fee, i have to drive or walk back to my car to get all my bags. who has time. might as well go for internet.

Anonymous said...

As a market employee who has heard a SLEW of complaints over the past year, I must express my general dislike for anyone complaining about this. Ten cents, really, is nothing to complain about. I see failing to bring your own bag as an unwillingness to think 1) ahead and 2) for yourself. Bring your own bag. It is quite an easy solution to a very menial problem.

And please, no more complaining to the cashier. They're are not responsible for this in the slightest. And plus, they don't care anyway.