Staff photo/Hayley Day Town of Friday Harbor Council members listen to a public hearing about the plastic bag ban on Jan. 19.

Town holds public hearing on plastic bag ban

San Juan County passed an ordinance to ban single-use, carryout plastic bags, last November, but it didn’t include the Town of Friday Harbor.

“There’s county code and then there’s the town,” said Town Clerk Amy Taylor to The Journal. “Sometimes they overlap and sometimes they don’t.”

A public hearing was held on the ordinance’s adoption at the Jan. 19 Town of Friday Harbor Council meeting and three members of the public spoke in favor. This included Jana Marks of Friends of the San Juans, who previously presented a petition to council in support of the ban, with 217 signatures from San Juan County residents and 273 from the state, nation and world.

“You help to make the place we live in beautiful. Thank you,” Councilwoman Barbara Starr told the commentators.

No one spoke against the ban.

Two changes were made to the town ordinance draft by council; the start date of the ban was changed from April 1 to May 1 to coincide with the county’s adoption and retailers were given additional time to use already purchased non-complying bags until out of stock.

“They didn’t want it to be a hardship on businesses,” said Taylor.

Westley Corey, general manager of Kings Market, said the bags used by both Kings and Market Place would not be permitted under the ordinance. Corey expects his order of compliant bags to arrive in a few months for both stores.

“We will totally be on board,” said Corey.

The ordinance defines single-use plastic carryout bags as “any bag less than 2.25 mils thick, made from plastic or any other nonrenewable resource.”

Carryout bags, according to the ordinance, are bags used to transport purchases from a retailer. They do not include the thinner produce, candy or meat bags or those for bakery goods or prescriptions. Retailers can give reusable bags or recycled paper bags, instead.

Friday Harbor is the only incorporated town in San Juan County. When the county passed a fireworks ban in 2009, the ordinance did not include the town either, said Taylor. A few months later, the town adopted the same ordinance, which is typical. Taylor couldn’t think of a time when the county adopted a code, the town didn’t as well.

Council will decide if the code will be adopted at 5 p.m., Feb. 2 at the Town Council meeting room at 60 Second St.