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IWMA sued over bag ban 

San Luis Obispo County’s Integrated Waste Management Authority has officially received its second lawsuit since it came into existence.

On Jan. 30, San Francisco attorney Stephen Joseph filed a lawsuit on behalf of his group Save the Plastic Bag Coalition against the IWMA over its recently adopted ban on single-use plastic bags. By a slim majority of the IWMA’s Board of Directors—which includes all five county supervisors, and representatives from incorporated cities—the authority adopted the ban on Jan. 11, which will go into effect later this year along with a 10-cent charge on single-use paper bags.

This is the second lawsuit against the IWMA since it formed in 1994. Joseph and his self-described “nonprofit environmental organization” have sued other municipalities for enacting similar bans. In 2008, the group sued the City of Manhattan Beach for adopting a ban on plastic bags without conducting an Environmental Impact Report.

The case rose to the California Supreme Court, which ultimately overturned an earlier appellate decision and ruled in favor of the city.

Save the Plastic Bag Coalition also sued—and ultimately lost—Marin County. The local case almost mirrors Joseph’s lawsuit against Marin.

According to the this lawsuit, Joseph said the IWMA, which represents a population much larger than Manhattan Beach, should have prepared an EIR in accordance with the Supreme Court’s decision, among other causes of action.

Days after filing with San Luis Obispo Superior Court, Joseph dropped one cause of action that Greg O’Sullivan inappropriately voted in favor of the bag ban. (O’Sullivan voted for the ban, but against the wishes of a majority of his fellow members with the Templeton Community Services District he represents.)

The lawsuit targets not only the IWMA, but SLO County and every participating city.

“I think the IWMA is confident in its legal position,” IWMA attorney Ray Biering told New Times. “It’s confident in its ability to prevail and defend this single-use bag ordinance.”

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