The Arcata City Council is continuing its effort to make the city more green.
The council directed staff to move forward with drafting an ordinance that would ultimately ban plastic foam containers, such as Styrofoam, from food establishments on Wednesday.
"There's much about polystyrene that has negative sides to it," Environmental Services Director Mark Andre said. "Predominantly, we're focused on litter and having a product that's compostable or can break down in a landfill or in somebody's backyard composting bin."
In December, the council voted unanimously to adopt an ordinance that bans single-use plastic bags at most businesses in an effort to encourage the use of reusable bags.
Councilman Michael Winkler said he would like the ordinance to be structured similarly to the plastic bag ban.
"My preference would be ... to have it be a reusable and compostable carryout food service container ordinance rather than structured in terms of being a polystyrene ban," Winkler said. "The first step would be to encourage people to have a reusable container, and the second step would be to have containers that are lower impact in terms of being recyclable or in terms of being compostable."
Councilwoman Susan Ornelas agreed.
"I support that, because I think you're trying to say what we want, as opposed to what we don't want," Ornelas said.
An earlier effort was put on hold because the city believed statewide legislation would be passed, and because the council chose to pursue the plastic bag ordinance first, Andre said previously.
Staff will now meet with affected business owners again to seek their input, and have the city attorney review a draft prior to holding a public hearing.
Andre said staff recommends the ordinance be implemented in October or November to allow time for policy outreach.
In other business, the council voted unanimously, with Councilman Shane Brinton absent, to approve a community block grant application for $1.6 million for a business loan program, planning and technical assistance funds for the Aldergrove and Happy Valley industrial parks and for a multi-family rental rehabilitation project for the low-income Juniper Park Apartments.
Lorna Rodriguez can be reached at 441-0506 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @LornaARodriguez.