The City Council-approved ban is designed to encourage shoppers to use re-usable bags for groceries, and keep plastic bags from polluting waterways and hurting wildlife. Paper bags will still be allowed at grocery stores, but at a price: 10 cents for the next 18 months, and 25 cents thereafter.
"Protective" plastic bags will still be allowed for such items as meat, nuts and bolts at hardware stores, prescriptions, newspapers, dry cleaning and greeting cards.
Juan Origel, co-owner of Ava's downtown Market and Deli, said he'd heard a few complaints about the ban from people who say "it's a freedom that's been taken away," but people from cities that have already have such bans in place, including San Jose and Palo Alto, are "shocked that we are still giving bags out."
The ban is a financial relief for his business, Origel said, saving the store hundreds of dollars a month to give out about 300 bags a day.
"It's one less expense for us," said Origel, who bought the Castro Street store with his wife Ann in 2011 and have at times struggled financially to transform it into a neighborhood-serving grocery store. "Most retailers I'd say are pretty happy about it. It helps us."
Ava's is selling reusable bags for 99 cents each.
Council members voted 5-2 in favor of the ban in December as part of a regional effort lead by San Mateo County. Council members Tom Means and John Inks were opposed, saying it limited personal freedom. Environmentalists, government officials and other council members said the move would protect local wildlife and keep bags from polluting the ocean and clogging local creeks.
For more details, see the city's web page about the ban at http://tinyurl.com/MVbags.