Texas or Texia? A Look at How the Thin Film Plastic Bag Ban Affected Los Angeles

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This is so marginally real estate, except that every Californian I know is sending me fun emails tonight, saying, why move to Dallas? You guys are getting more like us every day? Like this email:

Hey, I heard you guys just got a bag ban. When are you going to change your name to Texia? Get ready to stockpile bags and be a bag lady. Be careful, though, to wash your shopping bags. Some folks here have picked up Listeria from meat contamination of vegetables.

She knows how OCD I am. But a reader and frequent commenter — so frequent he should really contribute — sent me this study of the effects of Los Angeles’ thin plastic bag ban from 2012. The results surprised me, because I really don’t think people will go out of their way to shop in an area where they can still have free plastic bags. Convenience is so important to me, I just cannot conceive of this happening.

But you know what? It did! Following full implementation of the bag ban, over the course of a year, 60% of stores in areas not controlled by the ban in LA experienced a 9% average increase in sales.

Four fifths of the stores in areas under the ban saw a decrease in sales, and also, ultimately, a ten per cent reduction in employment as they had to let clerks go because, I suppose, sales could not support their continued employment. That would NOT be good for Dallas County, no sir.

This study was done by the National Center for Policy Analysis. It’s a conservative-leaning independent research group and think tank, and one of it’s more well-known heads was fired for alleged sexual misconduct mid 2014.  So take that with your coffee as you read this.

The ban negatively affected employment at stores inside the ban area. While every store inside the ban area was forced to terminate some of its staff, not a single store outside the ban area dismissed any staff. Stores inside the ban area reduced their employment by more than 10 percent. Stores outside the ban area increased their employment by 2.4 percent.

Many stores also began purchasing reusable bags. While 43 percent of stores in the ban area had not purchased reusable bags before, every store purchased these bags after the ban. And nearly half of these stores (48 percent), lost money on reusable bags. Of the stores that lost money, 38 percent expected the losses to stop after 1 month to 3 months, another 38 percent thought the losses would continue indefinitely. In order to stop losing money, 29 percent of stores ceased providing free reusable bags, and another 36 percent increased prices on these bags. Most stores also lost money on paper bags.

That is pretty amazing. We will be watching this to see if the same thing happens in Dallas County. As much as I hate the litter created by morons who, as a friend puts it, “thinks it’s their God-given right to dump a cup out the window or just toss a plastic garbage bag into the lake”, I just think the bag ban is the wrong way achieve a cleaner city. My late father-in-law was an engineer — he hated plastic bags, as he worked for International Paper Company. But what he really hated was styrofoam cups!

We will be watching and posting all about it.

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Candy Evans

A real estate muckraker, Candy Evans is one of the nation’s leading real estate reporters. She is also the North Texas real estate editor for Forbes.com, CultureMap Dallas, Modern Luxury Dallas, & the Katy Trail Weekly. Candy has written for Joel Kotkin’s The New Geography, Inman Real Estate News, plus a host of national sites. Constantly breaking celebrity real estate news, she scooped former president George W. Bush's Dallas home in 2008. She is the founder and publisher of her signature CandysDirt.com, and SecondShelters.com, devoted to the vacation home market. Her verticals have won many awards, including Best Blog by the venerable National Association of Real Estate Editors, one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious journalism associations. Candy holds an active Texas real estate license but does not sell. She is on the Board of Directors of Braemar Hotels & Resorts (BHR).

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