Calif. city bans plastic straws, but no longer proposes misdemeanor for offense

The city of Santa Barbara, California voted 6-1 last week to prohibit bars and restaurants from supplying their customers with plastic straws. The plastic straw ban will go into effect on Jan. 1. However, unlike the last time the city’s proposed straw ban was in the news, there will be no jail time for defying the ban.

The new law calls for fines ranging from $100 to $250 per offense. While this fine may seem steep, it is actually far lower than the originally proposed fine, which was $1,000, and was treated as a misdemeanor. Ariel Calonne, City Attorney for Santa Barbara, argued that the council should keep the criminal penalties.

Even in its current state, the law could affect untold number of citizens and businesses. Senior citizens and the disabled use straws to more easily drink. These people would be forced to bring their own straws in order to dine out in restaurants in Santa Barbara.

Businesses that serve boba tea or milkshakes would be hurt by this law, as these drinks are often consumed through a straw. Many to-go restaurants would also be hurt, as customers may be less likely to purchase drinks that they could not consume in a car. Also, family restaurants — many of which serve kids’ drinks with plastic lids and straws in order to avoid spills — would risk more messes, which would detract from the enjoyment of dining out.

Santa Barbara is the largest city in left-wing Santa Barbara County, which overwhelmingly backed Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in 2016. In the general election, Clinton carried the county 60% to 31.5%.


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