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Front Page » Communities » Coral Gables ban on Styrofoam hinges on Supreme

Coral Gables ban on Styrofoam hinges on Supreme

Written by on October 1, 2019
Coral Gables ban on Styrofoam hinges on Supreme

In its ongoing fight to uphold its ban on Styrofoam and single-use plastic bags, Coral Gables will now take its case directly to the Florida Supreme Court.

“We requested that the Third District Court of Appeals certify the question to the Florida Supreme Court, but the court denied our request,” City Attorney Miriam Ramos said Friday via email. “We are now in the process of drafting a motion to invoke jurisdiction from the Florida Supreme Court.”

Parties wishing to appeal a decision from a lower court can ask that court to certify the appeal to the Supreme Court but can also apply on their own, she explained. Because the Third District Court declined, the city will follow the latter path.

The Supreme Court doesn’t have to take the case, Ms. Ramos has said, and she re-iterated that last week. If the court declines to hear it, the city will seek legislative relief or will try to find an ally in Gov. Ron DeSantis, who vetoed a law restricting the right of cities to institute bans on plastic straws. The governor has also expressed an interest in environmental issues.

The Coral Gables City Commission voted unanimously in August to appeal a decision by the Third District Court of Appeal slapping down the city’s ban on Styrofoam and single-use plastics in retail establishments.

“This is a big issue, but the bigger issue is the assault on our home rule charter,” Mayor Raul Valdes-Fauli said at the time.

In March 2016, the Florida Legislature passed a law prohibiting any municipality from regulating Styrofoam or other packaging materials, including plastic bags, if its ordinance was passed after Jan. 1, 2016. Miami Beach and several other cities that passed bans earlier were carved out of the legislation. Coral Gables passed its ban in early 2016.

The Florida Retail Foundation sued to challenge the ban, which was upheld by a local court but struck down by the Third District Court on appeal.

Corali Lopez-Castro of the Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton firm, who represented the city in the Third District Court of Appeal, will handle the Supreme Court appeal if the high court agrees to take the case, Ms. Ramos has said.

She could not specify a time frame for the Supreme Court appeal. In the Third District appeal, “We had oral arguments in December 2017 and just recently received a decision,” she said last month. What the Supreme Court appeal would cost the city is also difficult to pin down, she said.

If the high court declines to hear the case, or the rules against the city on appeal, “It would end there. It would essentially be over,” she said.

The commission also voted to stay enforcement of the Styrofoam and plastic bag ban pending the outcome of an appeal. But Ms. Ramos and others have said they hope businesses would continue the eco-friendly trend.

“We have a very robust volunteer program in place for businesses that have sustainable initiatives in place,” she said then. “People have responded very positively.”

6 Responses to Coral Gables ban on Styrofoam hinges on Supreme

  1. Terry Ruiz de Castilla

    October 2, 2019 at 4:54 pm

    For decades we used paper bags for groceries, paper straws for sodas. Now lobbiest make it appear we cannot live without plastic. It’s a travesty & embarrassment the USA is opposing clean oceans & environment. Hard to believe the Florida Supreme Court doesn’t get it considering our geographical location.

  2. Jack Thompson

    October 2, 2019 at 10:26 pm

    Another example of the city wasting tax dollars on its EXTREME green agenda

    • Brandon

      October 6, 2019 at 1:14 pm

      Jack your comment is typical human response. Go eat the EXTREME plastic choking our world and then come back here and tell me how extreme it tastes! Animals are literally being suffocated by the tons of plastics and plastic particles enering their habitat and like you are not educated enough to know the difference and eat it!

      Unacceptable that companies continue to use plastics to boost bottom lines and profits! Many ways to sell products without killing the very planet we need to survive!

      • Jack Thompson

        October 28, 2019 at 11:58 am

        Allow me to explain something:

        If all you eco advocates want to get rid of styrofoam, then how about you try a little democracy for a change, as follows:

        State LAW prohibits local initiatives banning styrofoam. That area of regulation is “pre-empted” by the state. So get off your self-righteous rear ends and either lobby the state legislature to a) remove the pre-emption station or b) pass a law banning styrofoam statewide.

        I love how you folks just LOVE to try end arounds to get what you want and NEVER exercise your First Amendment rights (and duties) to “petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Instead you use Commissioner Lago’s extreme environmentalist agenda pet projects to get what you want (or try to) in a wholly un-democratic way.

        Commissioner Lago’s latest idea is to take Gables tax dollars and given subsidies to city employees who buy electric cars for their PERSONAL USE!

        Commissioner Lago’s plastic bag initiative actually makes matters worse as the paper bags at Publix, for example, increase the City’s carbon footprint.

        So, we have a green movement in this City that ignores the state constitution and ignores the facts. Other than that, you green folks are doing great. Jack Thompson

  3. Terry Ruiz de Castilla

    October 3, 2019 at 12:19 pm

    Extreme? Have you seen the impact of plastic in general forming islands the size of Texas in the ocean, killing marine animals & birds who ingest the plastic junk discarded without concern by sloppy human beings. Such a bore hearing unenlightened folks misunderstanding that conservation is not an “extreme green agenda”.We all need a healthy planet!

  4. Katherine Newman

    October 27, 2019 at 5:08 pm

    Yes, vendors in the city should use something other than plastic and styrofoam. I beleive most of them have already switched to more eco friendly materials. FOr the city to spend our tax dollars on this useless fight is ludicrous. Try asking the vendors to use other materials. I bet most of them would comply. Coral Gables is trying to be famous for its “green” approach. The reality is, that like most of the other 36 municipal beaurocracies in Miamidade, they are gving what little remains of our green space to the megadevelopers. It is a travesty.