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City Council votes to ban plastic straws in Santa Barbara

Less than three months after doing an about-face following a public outcry regarding discussions of a plastic straw ban, the Santa Barbara City Council voted Tuesday to officially ban all plastic straws, plastic cutlery, and plastic stirrers.

Councilmember Randy Rowse was the only “no” vote at Oct. 9’s city council meeting. He says the ordinance does little and that restaurant and local residents were already on board.

“Laws do not create leadership, laws create laws and lot of expensive staff time. I’m a little embarrassed we are here right now. Madam Mayor I’m gonna propose a substitute motion set aside and go with state law 1884,” Rowse said at Tuesday’s meeting.

State law or AB 1884 was recently signed into law by California Gov. Jerry Brown. The law requires all restaurants in the state to only give out plastic straws on demand. Santa Barbara’s new ordinance adds plastic stirrers and cutlery to the mix.

In late July 2018, the city council voted to continue discussion surrounding plastic straws after voting for a ban a week before.

Tuesday’s vote is based on a final revision of the ban that makes it possible for anyone that breaks the ordinance not to face felony or misdemeanor charges for doing so. However, a $100 to $250-dollar fine may be imposed for ban breakers.

This so-called civil fine will be determined by trash and recycle officers.

Officials say the city will ramp up education on this ordinance with the community hoping to avoid anyone inadvertently breaking the ordinance.

Bars and restaurants will be the most affected by this ban but city officials say customers can still get a straw on request. Plastic cutlery will also be provided on request. However, there is a caveat — the plastic straws will be intended for people with disabilities only.

The new ordinance goes into effect on July 1, 2019.

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