Chapter 5.49


5.49.010    Purpose and intent.

5.49.020    Definitions.

5.49.030    Ban on single-use personal care products in the hospitality industry.

5.49.100    Implementation.

5.49.110    Exemptions.

5.49.120    Enforcement.

5.49.130    Violations.

5.49.140    Severability.

5.49.150    No conflict with Federal or State law.

5.49.160    Environmental findings.

5.49.010 Purpose and intent.

(A)    The purpose of this chapter is to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public and of the environment by reducing the use of single-use plastic products, while encouraging product design that minimizes negative impacts on human health and the environment at every stage of the product’s lifecycle.

(B)    The County of Santa Cruz has an obligation to protect the environment, the economy, and public health. As of the date of adoption of the ordinance codified in this chapter, the County of Santa Cruz has an official zero waste goal, which is to be reached by waste reduction, reuse, recycling, and composting. The County of Santa Cruz makes the following findings:

(1)    The County of Santa Cruz is situated at the edge of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Plastics which are littered or otherwise deposited improperly in the County can find their way into the Monterey Bay where they can negatively impact the marine environment and sea life.

(2)    As litter, plastic is highly durable, persisting and detracting from the appearance of an area longer than other types of litter. There is a prevalence of plastic debris littering our parks and public places, streets and roads, waterways, storm drains and beaches. This litter ultimately floats, or is blown, into the Monterey Bay. This litter exists at a financial cost to residents and an environmental cost to our natural resources.

(3)    Plastic can take hundreds or even thousands of years to break down in the environment. It is not just the accumulation of plastics that harms the environment—it is also the fragments and toxins released during photo-decomposition that pollute our soil and water.

(4)    Studies by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Environmental Health have found numerous health risks from routine use of plastics. People are exposed to chemicals from plastic multiple times per day through the air, dust, water, food and use of consumer products.

(5)    Plastic buried deep in landfills can leach harmful chemicals that spread into groundwater.

(6)    Chemicals present in plastics which leach out into the environment have been shown to affect reproduction and development in animals. Studies show direct links between exposure and adverse health outcomes.

(7)    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Toxics Release Inventory found that significant releases of toxic chemicals from plastics into the environment include trichloroethane, acetone, methylene chloride, methyl ethyl ketone, styrene, toluene and benzene.

(8)    According to the EPA, plastics make up more than 12 percent of the municipal solid waste stream, a dramatic increase from 1960, when plastics were less than one percent of the waste stream.

(9)    Only about eight percent of plastic used in the U.S. is recycled.

(10)    The plastics industry rarely uses recycled plastics in the vast majority of their products.

(11)    Most plastics which are recycled are “downcycled” into lower-grade, single-use products which cannot be recycled in turn.

(12)    As much as one-third of plastics recycled in the U.S. was previously sent to China for processing. The recent ban on most recycled commodities by China has left the U.S. with 1.4 million tons of plastic each year that is struggling to find an outlet. This amount is expected to increase.

(13)    After decades of progress in recycling, the recycling rate in the State of California is going down for the first time.

(14)    Many jurisdictions, including the City of Santa Cruz, have begun landfilling plastic due to the difficulty of recycling it.

(15)    Billions of tiny bottles of shampoo, lotion and other products are thrown away every year by hotels and motels. Many chains, including Marriott and Hilton, have already begun switching to wall-mounted dispensers to reduce waste and be more sustainable.

(16)    Santa Cruz County has been a pioneer in the reduction of plastic pollution, being among the first to adopt bans on plastic bags, Styrofoam, plastic straws and other nonrecyclable items.

(17)    Despite these efforts, plastic debris continues to be a growing problem in the public spaces of the County, requiring further action to protect public health and the environment. [Ord. 5287 § 1, 2018].

5.49.020 Definitions.

(A)    “Plastic” refers to any synthetic material made from organic polymers such as polyethylene, PVC, nylon, etc., that can be molded into shape while soft and then set into a rigid or slightly elastic form. Includes all plastics Nos. 1 through 7, as well as any new variants.

(B)    “Personal care products” include shampoo, conditioner, and other similar products intended for personal use by visitors.

(C)    “Small plastic bottles” refers to any plastic bottle containing less than 12 ounces. [Ord. 5287 § 1, 2018].

5.49.030 Ban on single-use personal care products in the hospitality industry.

(A)    Small plastic bottles of personal care products may not be provided in hotel or motel rooms, vacation rentals, or other visitor accommodations in the unincorporated areas of Santa Cruz County, except to persons specifically requesting accommodation of a disability or other special need.

(B)    Hospitality businesses serving visitors are encouraged to use bulk dispensers of personal care products to reduce cost, waste and the impact on the environment.

(C)    This provision does not apply to hosted rentals in which the owner lives on the premises. [Ord. 5287 § 1, 2018].

5.49.100 Implementation.

(A)    The prohibitions of this chapter will take effect as of December 31, 2020.

(B)    No less than one year before this chapter takes effect, the County of Santa Cruz shall post, mail or deliver a copy of it to affected businesses within the unincorporated County of Santa Cruz. [Ord. 5287 § 1, 2018].

5.49.110 Exemptions.

(A)    The Director of Public Works, or the Director’s designee, may exempt an affected business or person from the requirements set forth in this chapter upon the affected business or person showing, in writing, that this chapter would create an undue hardship or practical difficulty not generally applicable to other businesses or persons in similar circumstances. Exemptions may be permanent or for a limited period, at the Director’s discretion. The decision to grant or deny an exemption shall be in writing, and the Director’s or the Director’s designee’s decision shall be final.

(B)    An exemption application shall include all information necessary for the Director of Public Works or the Director’s designee to make a decision, including but not limited to documentation showing factual support for the claimed exemption.

(C)    The Director of Public Works or Director’s designee may approve the exemption application in whole or in part, with or without conditions.

(D)    The decision of the Director or Director’s designee shall be final and may not be appealed to any other person or body. [Ord. 5287 § 1, 2018].

5.49.120 Enforcement.

Enforcement of this chapter shall be as follows:

(A)    The Director of Public Works, or designee, shall have primary responsibility for enforcement of this chapter and shall have authority to issue citations for violation of this chapter. The Director, or designee, is authorized to establish regulations or administrative procedures to ensure compliance with this chapter.

(B)    A person or entity violating or failing to comply with any of the requirements of this chapter shall be guilty of an infraction.

(C)    The County of Santa Cruz may seek legal, injunctive, or any other relief to enforce the provisions of this chapter and any regulation or administrative procedure authorized by it.

(D)    The remedies and penalties provided in this chapter are cumulative and not exclusive of one another.

(E)    The Director of Public Works or designee may inspect any business establishment’s premises to verify compliance with this chapter. [Ord. 5287 § 1, 2018].

5.49.130 Violations.

Violations of this chapter shall be enforced as follows:

(A)    Violation of this chapter is hereby declared to be a public nuisance. Any violation shall be subject to abatement by the County of Santa Cruz, as well as any other remedies that may be permitted by law for public nuisances, and may be enforced by injunction, upon a showing of violation.

(B)    Upon a first violation, the Director of Public Works, or designee, shall mail a written warning. The warning shall recite the violation, and advise that future violations may result in fines.

(C)    Upon a second or subsequent violation, or failure to correct the initial violation, the following penalties will apply:

(1)    A fine not exceeding $100.00 for the first violation that occurs 30 days or more after the first warning.

(2)    A fine not exceeding $200.00 for the second violation, or failure to correct the initial violation, that occurs 60 days or more after the first warning.

(3)    A fine not exceeding $500.00 for the third violation, or failure to correct the initial violation, that occurs 90 days or more after the first warning.

(4)    A fine not exceeding $500.00 for every 30-day period not in compliance that occurs 90 days or more after the first warning.

(D)    Remedies and fines under this section are cumulative. [Ord. 5287 § 1, 2018].

5.49.140 Severability.

If any word, phrase, sentence, part, section, subsection, or other portion of this chapter, or any application thereof to any person or circumstance, is declared void, unconstitutional, or invalid for any reason, then such word, phrase, sentence, part, section, subsection, or other portion, or the proscribed application thereof, shall be severable, and the remaining provisions of this chapter, and all applications thereof, not having been declared void, unconstitutional or invalid, shall remain in full force and effect. The County of Santa Cruz hereby declares that it would have passed this title, and each section, subsection, sentence, clause, and phrase thereof, irrespective of the fact that any one or more sections, subsections, sentences, clauses, or phrases had been declared invalid or unconstitutional. [Ord. 5287 § 1, 2018].

5.49.150 No conflict with Federal or State law.

Nothing in this chapter shall be interpreted or applied so as to create any requirement, power, or duty in conflict with any Federal or State law. [Ord. 5287 § 1, 2018].

5.49.160 Environmental findings.

This chapter is entitled to a categorical exemption of the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) pursuant to 14 California Code of Regulations Section 15307, which exempts “actions taken by regulatory agencies, as authorized by State or local ordinance, to assure the maintenance, restoration, enhancement, or protection of the environment where the regulatory process involves procedures for protection.” [Ord. 5287 § 1, 2018].