So much for living by the beach.
As this odd summer draws to a close, talk around town has been about the awfully cool weather we’ve had, with June gloom seeming to linger for months with only a handful of warm, sunny days for those seeking a tan or a swim.
Could it be global warming, or is it some after-effect of El Niño? We don’t know. We’re not meteorologists, nor experts on climate change. We’re just your average resident who is worried about how this somewhat dreary summer is affecting our physical, mental and economic well-being. What we do know is that weather can make a significant impact on our community. For example, when it rains the economic engine known as the Third Street Promenade becomes a ghost town.
It’s clear that those businesses that rely on the weather are feeling the heat. Surf shops, surf camps, hotels, bars and restaurants along the boardwalk and Santa Monica Pier rely on a robust summer to bring in the bucks. When visitors and residents alike do not venture onto the sand and into the surf with the frequency we all expect because of the fog that seems to hang until 1 or 2 in the afternoon, it cuts into the time spent at these businesses since no one is hitting the coast.
And that is why it is important for our city as a whole to take a progressive stand when it comes to protecting out environment and our oceans. This summer’s abnormal weather may not be connected to global warming, but what if it is? We can’t take that chance. City Hall has been at the forefront in the fight against global warming, passing a law that bans the use of Styrofoam, investing millions in urban runoff reduction systems and increasing solar power generation and the use of alternative fuels.
Now City Hall needs to turn its attention to plastic bags. We are extremely disappointed with legislators in Sacramento who this week failed to pass Assemblywoman Julia Brownley’s groundbreaking bill to ban single-use plastic bags. These are the bags we get at grocery stores to haul home bread, eggs and milk. These are the bags that we get at liquor stores to take home that bottle of Patron or a six-pack of Stone IPA. These are not trash bags or those used for produce or meats at supermarkets. These are the bags that are discarded and make their way into our oceans and kill marine life that is so crucial to our eco-system.
The state senators who voted against the bill and bowed down to the plastics industry failed us. Apparently they haven’t seen footage of the huge garbage patches floating in our seas. They haven’t seen sea turtles or dolphins strangled by plastic waste.
The arguments against the bill were simple: it will cost jobs and be too costly for the state during a time of economic uncertainty.
We say those arguments are shortsighted. The price we pay now will never compare to the price we as a society will pay in the future when this garbage takes over and destroys our oceans to the point where tourists no longer flock to our beaches. Our award-winning restaurants will no longer be able to serve top-quality seafood nor will we as consumers be able to get certain types of seafood at our local markets.
We believe jobs can be created by a ban, not lost. We ran a story in the last year about a group of veterans who are making re-usable bags for City Hall. Artists, boutiques and others could go into business selling decorative bags to fashionistas while those who could care less can purchase more affordable bags.
Santa Monica’s City Council must act swiftly to approve its own local ban on plastics. We’ve waited long enough. The plastic industry tried to shake us down already, forcing City Hall to put the ban on hold last year to conduct an environmental impact report or face litigation. City staff has completed that task and is ready to move forward. The council must approve this ban.
There are those concerned about our low-income residents who may not be able to afford reusable bags sold at our local markets for around $1 each. We don’t buy that argument. If China and India can afford to pass bans, then so can we.
But if there is such a concern, we are sure City Hall can come up with a way to provide those bags for the poor or force grocers to provide them free of charge. Perhaps developers who plan to build a market as part of a mixed-use development can pay into a re-usable bag fund as part of a development agreement.
We have several reusable bags at home and have never purchased a single one. We’ve collected them at various events around the city and love walking around town with our bags, promoting the libraries, Red Cross, and the Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau. There are free or low-cost bags out there so there should be no excuses. Let’s get this ban passed and do our part to protect the environment.