In November of 2012, ten months after implementation of the San Jose Bag Ban, the city issued a report claiming success. The memorandum contained an analysis of litter surveys and claimed a reduction of on-land plastic bag litter of 59%, 60% in creeks, and 89% in storm drains. The latter figure is widely used by bag ban proponents as proof the law works. However, problems with the underlying data as well as the methodology used indicate that these reduction figures are questionable. Other factors such as a cost analysis was never done by the city nor were other less costly alternatives investigated.
In an article “San Jose Bag Ban Report Rebuttal” the authors respond to the claims of success in a stinging rebuttal. The authors claim that the wrong parameter was measured, measurement methodology was unscientific and flawed, bag usage observations were not taken at a broad cross-section of stores, no cost/benefit analysis was conducted, and serious negative impacts were never addressed.
The authors present an analysis of plastic bag litter reduction calculations by the city as well as supply their own. Also presented is a pre ban and post ban cost analysis of carryout bag use showing the cost increase that is incurred by consumers.
On 27 August 2012, the Homer City Council voted 4-2 to pass an ordinance to ban plastic bags. Subsequently, on September 7, 2012 Mayor James C. Hornaday vetoed the ordinance. The bag ban was intended to reduce litter and retailers are prohibited from distributing plastic carryout bags at the checkout counter. The ban excludes thicker plastic shopping bags, trash bags, bags for prescription drugs, and bags used to package bulk foods and newspaper bags. (Alaska Dispatch, 2012) Paper bags are not banned nor is there a fee on paper bags. Councilman David Lewis stated that he hoped people would bring reusable bags. One of the complaints was that plastic bags are so light they blow away at the dump. (Dubois, 2012) The council subsequently voted 4-2 to override the mayoral veto. The ordinance banned the use of plastic bags effective January 1st 2013. (Alaska Pride, 2013)
A group of citizens in Homer hoped to overturn the plastic bag ban. Justin Arnold, Dan Gardner, and Marlina Hogdon filed paper work with the city clerk to circulate a petition for 90 days. They were required to get 230 signatures in order to place the issue on the ballot. Justin Arnold stated there are many reasons why he wants to overturn the ban, the main reason is to give citizens a chance to vote on the matter. Radio talk show host Chris Story also took up the band-wagon when he said the city council is not here to protect the environment but to conduct city business on behalf of city residents. He also stated that the council spends too much time “changing your behavior in alignment with a larger agenda.” The measure is on the 1 October 2013 ballot. (Klouda, 2013)
On 1 October, 2013 citizens of Homer, Alaska overturned the plastic bag ban by a vote of 56% to 44% or 661-519. A total of 1,180 votes were cast out of 4,337 registered voters for a 27.2% voter turnout. (City of Homer, 2013)
Most residents who objected to the ordinance simply objected to the coercion, many of whom already use cloth bags. The sentiment expressed was the problem with progressive politicians who rely on the ban-hammer as the first weapon of choice rather than the last resort.