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Moab Joins The Short List Of Utah Cities Banning Plastic Bags

Moab City Government

The Moab City Council has joined the small list of two Utah cities that has an ordinance that bans the use of plastic bags. Unlike Park City’s ban, it is city-wide. It takes effect beginning January 1. Park City banned plastic bags in May of 2017 for use in larger box stores but did not include smaller businesses in the ordinance.  Carolyn Murray has this:

Moab City Council Member, Rani Derasary, said the ban has a lot to do with the groundwork laid by Park City and Salt Lake City’s programs. She said the new Mayor of Moab, along with the council has put in place sustainability goals and banning the plastic bag fits well with their objectives.

"Well, I should first thank you guys in Park City because Park City has been really helpful, and Salt Lake City as well in terms of some of the advances we’ve been trying to make in terms of sustainability. We’ve been in contact with your mayor and your sustainability director about some changes we could make and that has some impact on some of the goals that we recently set for sustainability, renewable and energy.”

Derasary said they decided to go with a full city-wide plastic bag ban rather than follow the Park City model of banning only large stores. She said it’s up to the individual businesses to charge but some stores are offering boxes as an alternative.

“Emails and conversations I’ve had with people have been in favor of the ban on a 9:1, 10:1 ratio. Our Chamber of Commerce is in favor. The biggest store in the community, City Market, is actually on a path to do away with plastic bags throughout the City Market chain by 2025. There are some exceptions in the ordinance that allow for certain plastic bags under 2.25 millimeters.

Derasary said they have community members who work throughout the community picking up plastic and other litter.

“They will tell you the ridiculous number they end up picking up. But we’ve also had wind blowing. We have a lot of problems at the Recycling Center with them all over the place. But, you’ll also see them…we have our landfill located north of Arches and there are definitely times, even though it’s tucked over a hill, off of Highway 191, where the wind will kick up enough where you’ll find grazing fences on the other side of the highway just coated. I mean, it’s not just plastic bags, but other light weight pieces of plastic. You can find that in neighborhoods and along creeks too.”

The ban does not apply to Grand County businesses and some border the city limits on the south side of town. She doesn’t know if they’ll implement a plastic bag ban throughout the county.

Derasary said the city population hasn’t grown much in the past five years but the impacts of tourism have been dramatic. She said in some ways, it is like Park City.

“Our tourist season is getting longer and what you’re largely seeing is growth in lodging. We have some residential growth but it’s relatively small by comparison. Yeah, we can have weekends where even though the city population is a little over 5000 people and the Grand County population is about 10, you could have easily tens of thousands of people in the community.”

She said finding employees is a huge issue and it is directly related to affordable housing. They’re looking at a lot of options because city employees, teachers and service workers can’t find housing and Moab is a like an island with little in the way of bedroom communities.

“Yeah, we have 250 open jobs at the moment, everything from bringing more deed restricted housing into the community and policies like assured housing or what some people call inclusionary housing where if you’re building a structure over a certain size, a percentage of that, you would have some options. You might then be asked to provide a certain number of units of affordable housing or to put a certain amount of money into a fee for a pool for affordable housing.”

The City Council recently committed to subsidize properties that are currently affordable. Derasary said there’s not one solution to solve the shortage of workforce housing in Moab. The Moab city-wide plastic bag ban begins January 1.

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