TRUCKEE, Calif. - The community has answered the call by the town of Truckee for input on the possibility of doing away with plastic checkout bags.
As of Thursday morning, 850 responses had been received by the town on a survey inquiring about the level of support for a potential plastic bag ban and fee on paper checkout bags. About 69.8 percent of responders supported the ban, 23.4 percent were against and 7.6 percent were undecided, said Nichole Dorr, the town's recycling coordinator.
For community members: www.surveymonkey.com/s/CXTQYRC
For business owners: www.surveymonkey.com/s/2FBT7VJ
Dorr said she is "blown away" by the number of responses the town has received since last Friday, with 600 surveys being taken the first two days.
"That first initial response has been amazing," she said, adding that over the past few days responses have been trickling in at a slower rate.
Truckee resident Lisa Wandzell-Levonian wrote to the Sierra Sun, stating that she is 100 percent in favor of a plastic bag ban.
"I can't help but think that the world would be so much more beautiful without the plastic bag trash everywhere, including the Truckee River and Lake Tahoe," she said.
She went on to say that she takes part in Truckee Day, a town-wide street cleanup day, every year, picking up "many" bags.
"I also pick up trash on my walks and hikes, and I can always find plastic bags anywhere I hike," she said.
Longtime Truckee resident Mimi Hagen, who also participates in Truckee Day with her husband, said, "Plastic bags seem to make it to Donner Historic Park, our streets and up on the pushed snow mounds. We all need to recycle."
While Truckee resident Eve Auch said she normally uses recyclable bags for her groceries, she would not like to see a plastic bag ban.
"I recycle every single plastic bag I get ... by using them as liners for small garbage cans around the house," she said. "I carry them double bagged when I walk my dogs. I even put vegetables from my garden in them for giving to others."
Out of the 850 responses, 75 percent stated they reuse plastic checkout bags, Dorr said.
An Olympic Valley resident who preferred not to be named, said he, too, reuses plastic bags for a variety of purposes.
"This is a huge convenience and we would not like to lose it," he said.
As for business-owner reaction, Dorr said of the 33 who have taken the survey, many have questions, especially regarding a possible fee for paper bags and the potential impact on business.
"This is a tourist community," Auch said. "How many people do you think will come in for the wonders of Truckee and bring their own recyclable bags? It isn't going to happen."
North Shore resident Mike Clauss, who is in support of the ban, said tourists are familiar with the concept since the law is in effect in other cities and communities.
Other communities with a ban on plastic bags include San Francisco, San Jose and mountain tourist destinations such as Aspen, Colo.
South Lake Tahoe is also working on an ordinance that would prohibit retailers from providing plastic bags at checkout and charge at least 10 cents per paper bag. A first reading of the ordinance will take place at next Tuesday's City Council meeting. If passed, a second reading and potential adoption will occur at the Feb. 5 meeting, said Susan Alessi, city clerk.
Dorr said the town intends to reach out to other communities, especially small mountain tourist communities, that have successfully passed a plastic bag ban to learn the potential business impacts of such an ordinance and lessons learned.
As for the impact on locally generated business, a few comments sent to the Sierra Sun indicated they may shop more in Reno as a result of a ban.
The Olympic Valley resident said he and his family currently do most of their grocery shopping in Truckee, since the town's markets are their local favorites.
"A plastic bag ban would probably slightly reduce our grocery shopping in Truckee," he said. "We go to Reno more often now because we have close family that moved to Reno recently, and we would probably buy more groceries in Reno, since we will be there anyway."
"Truckee has that reputation of being a high-price tourist town," said Truckee resident Sharon Cagle. "I do shop local, but sometimes it's cheaper to go to Reno, and a lot of Truckee people do go to Reno for gas, food, clothing and also to doctors. ... If prices keep going up, I feel all of our businesses will be impacted."
Dorr said the town intends to reach out to the local business community to answer its questions and concerns.
"We're still interested in getting additional feedback, especially from the business community," she said.
Two surveys - one geared toward community members and the other toward business owners - are currently available online and can be filled out until the end of the month.