In 2014 the City of Santa Barbara implemented its Single-Use Carryout Bag Ordinance (full text). The ordinance prohibits certain stores from providing single-use plastic carryout bags to customers at the point of sale and requires a 10-cent charge for each paper bag provided to customers. The 10-cent charge on paper bags may be retained by stores for use in complying with the ordinance.
Inside Santa Barbara newsmagazine piece explaining the "why" and "what" of the new rules (07:56)
The Impact of Using Plastic Bags
Approximately 47,300,000 single-use plastic bags are distributed in Santa Barbara annually. These bags are made mostly from non-renewable natural gas and petroleum and represent an unnecessary waste of resources. After taking and using one from a retail store, a customer may reuse a single-use plastic bag at home or recycle it, but the majority of them end up in a landfill or as litter (less than 5% in California are recycled).
Single-use plastic bags that become litter can enter storm drains and watersheds or may be blown directly into the ocean by wind. Once in the coastal habitat, marine species can ingest them or become entangled in the bag, leading to fatal results.