According to Sign On San Diego, Solana Beach could soon be the first city in San Diego County to outlaw plastic bags.

The move came as a result of a recent California Supreme Court ruling, which allows smaller communities to prohibit the use of most plastic bags without conducting a costly environmental impact report. Larger cities like San Diego would have to complete the impact report before implementing the ban (which costs about $50-$75K). Currently, eight municipalities in California have full or partial bans on plastic bags, including Los Angeles County, San Francisco city and county and Malibu. More than two dozen additional counties are discussing the idea.

Most distressing about plastic bags is only 5 percent of the 19 billion bags used in California are recycled and about 147,000 tons of them go into landfills each year. Once at the landfill, they take years to break down, and are toxic to birds and animals, who mistake them for food. Another issue with plastic bags is that curbside recycling programs don't accept them --- they must be dropped off at supermarkets or other designated centers for proper processing.

Exact details of the proposed ban are still being worked out. The city is looking to other smaller coastal communities such as Santa Monica, Long Beach and Manhattan Beach, whose bans could take effect in January. Some ideas being debated include charging customers a nominal fee for bags, and whether or not the plan should be rolled out in stages.

Solana Beach has a long history of breaking new ground with environmental policies. They were the county's first municipality to ban smoking in restaurants in 1992, and the first city in the continental United States to ban smoking on beaches (in 2003).

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