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Community Victory: Latino and local pressure prompts shift by Senators De Leon and Lara on statewide bag ban

Word On The Street: Voters Call On Senator De Leon to Pass Ban on Single-Use Bags, SB 405
Word On The Street: Voters Call On Senator De Leon to Pass Ban on Single-Use Bags, SB 405
This year marks a turning point for California’s economic and political future as Latinos are set to surpass white non-Hispanics for the first time to become a plurality of the state population. This demographic shift presents new opportunities for Latino communities and their elected officials to shape our state’s legislative agenda and continue California’s important role as a national thought leader, innovator, and policy incubator.

Last week’s about-face by Senators Kevin De Leon and Ricardo Lara to co-author SB 270, the statewide ban on polluting single-use plastic bags, came in part because Latinos led local communities' demand for the bill’s passage. The announcement of the breakthrough for the statewide bag ban by Senator Alex Padilla, also an Angeleno, coincided with a statement by the Latino Coalition for a California Bag Ban supporting the effort.

Latinos in the Los Angeles districts of both senators also played a critical role conveying supporter’s voices on the urgency and importance of the statewide bag ban to the public, the press, and policy makers. 

Latinos were among local activists who passed a series of 15 neighborhood council resolutions throughout Los Angeles calling for the statewide ban. Several cited the abundance of single-use bags lining the Los Angeles River, which flows through communities represented by De Leon and Lara, and highlighted the need for a statewide policy to reinforce local bag bans and reduce trash in waterways.

More than 90 California localities have banned single-use plastic bags. Los Angeles, the largest city to do so, imposed its ban beginning this year following similar bans throughout Southern California, including Long Beach, Pasadena, Huntington Beach, and unincorporated Los Angeles County.

The sophisticated push from the community thwarted efforts by the plastic bag industry and their public-relations team to distort the issue with cliche arguments that pit jobs against the environment. Supervisor Gloria Molina, who represents unincorporated East Los Angeles, noted in a recent oped that, since the dawn of the environmental movement, opponents have tried to stop progress by exaggerating economic impacts. (SB 270} opponents claimed over 350 jobs would be lost — when the actual number turned out to be around 15.

Recent polls indicate that Latinos by wide margins back legislation to curb pollution, climate change, and other environmental problems.  Only support for immigration reform surpasses Latinos' pro-environment values.

Latinos understand that protecting our environment is not an obstacle to growing successful businesses. Supporting green solutions and products, like reusable bags and the state's growing industry to manufacture and market them, creates much-needed jobs.

The emergence of a strong anti-pollution, pro-environment voice within the Latino community - able to break through industry talking points and hold lawmakers accountable - is over due for Los Angeles and California. Humane and earth-friendly resolutions to many complex policy issues, from airborne toxin eradication to water safety and sustainability, are more likely to succeed with engaged, progressive grassroots leadership from Latino communities throughout our state.

Passage of SB 270 will signify a turning point for California’s Latinos, who now embrace their crucial role as leaders in the environmental movement.

A proud Angeleno with roots in Lincoln Heights, Richard Xavier Corral leads the L.A.-based firm Corral Consulting, which advises businesses, nonprofits, government entities, and philanthropic organizations on strategies to achieve progressive change.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

True Freedom February 03, 2014 at 05:08 PM
@jayres : I hear you. As a generality, it's my perception that Latinos are not very environmentally conscious. My perception, thos. Cool if that's changing..
Luz Madrigal February 04, 2014 at 10:39 AM
Wow, some of the comments on here are so racist! Way to spin a positive story. By the way, Latinos carpool more than Whites, tend to fix things, reuse bags, and recycle cans and bottles- many out of necessity but they do it. The comment about gardeners and maids not keeping their homes in order, are you serious?! Go to the Inland Empire where many lower income whites live and show me their nice clean homes and neighborhoods! Instead of cars they have motorcycles on their lawns and RVs on the sidewalk with people living in them permanently. It's not a race or nationality issue, it's an economic issue. As Latinos become more successful and pull themselves out of the barrio they also tend to live in nicer areas, upkeep their homes, etc. However, as demonstrated by some of the comments above and even by a so called Latino, right away they want to make things a race issue. Disgusting!
jayres February 04, 2014 at 12:48 PM
Luz, I love that you jump right to accusations of racism, and as far as, "right away they want to make things a race issue", the article was written with a bent based on Latinos putting pressure on elected officials to change their stance on legislation. I just made the obvious observations that if these issues were truly relevant to the ethnic community praised by the author than I would appreciate a little action from that community on a personal level that doesn't require government action and supports the author's claim with real-life, at-home examples. The truth is that the Latinos responsible for pushing this change, are in fact political activists with their own personal agendas that require the full adoption and implementation of the progressive platform to further their own careers. Lets see the same aggressive push from the average Latino, and then we can declare and praise that specific ethnic group for driving shifts in the legislative process. Also, noting that many Latinos are construction workers, tradesmen, lawn workers, maids, is not a slight against Latinos(as all work, especially that which requires physical labor, a trade, or using ones hands is noble) but was meant to highlight the irony of the situation. You think its racism, but I can assure you the white people have as much issue with other whites who don't maintain their properties, or create an eyesore in the neighborhood, it just can't be called anything other than "shaming".
nonoise February 05, 2014 at 10:53 AM
There is good and bad in every community and every race. That is why race should not even be mentioned. Why is the headline "Latino and other pressure". Surely this story has to do with getting something done and nothing about who is doing it, Latino or others. The headline is racist in itself. Praise everyone for getting stuff done not single one race out and then say pressure by others? That means every race is having a say. The headline itself is meaningless and slanted.
Margarito Martinez February 10, 2014 at 11:59 AM
The plastic bag ban is a very bad law. It doesn't work at all. It is ill conceived and it's hard to believe it ever got passed. As far as "Latino" pressure, no one ever asked me… I don't like the word Latino. It doesn't cover me, or most of my Spanish surnamed friends. Hispanic doesn't suit me ether. I prefer Mexican American if anything. However I don't believe people can be labeled. Whether it be Gay, Black, Hispanic, or whatever. People should be considered human beings, and related to as such. Not as whatever their identifying label is. Also, the growing demographic is a direct result of illegal migration Northwards from Mexico. It's not the same to say the Hispanic population has grown and not mention that this growth has not been natural, but rather is the result of an illegal alien explosion. This article is a good example of political correctness

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