Santa Barbara Steps Into Statism With Straw Ban

The SoCal town’s straw ban will be the strictest law in the books. Yikes.

Santa Barbara, California, is known for its pristine beaches, Mediterranean climate, arts/culture scene, and gorgeous vistas. Soon, the seaside town will be home to the country’s most stringent straw ban. It’ll join San Francisco and Seattle in this statist endeavor.

Reason puts it as ordinance “that prohibits restaurants, bars, and other food service businesses from handing out plastic straws to their customers. Plastic stirrers and utensils could still be legally provided, but only if customers request them.” Here’s more from the ordinance about the prohibition or sale of plastic items in the seaside town:

It shall be unlawful for any food provider or beverage provider to use plastic beverage straws, or to provide, distribute, or sell plastic beverage straws to any person. B. Nothing in this section precludes a food provider or beverage provider from using, providing, distributing, or selling non-plastic alternatives to plastic beverage straws, such as those made from paper, sugar cane, or bamboo, available to customers. Nonplastic alternative straws shall only be provided upon request. C. No person shall distribute plastic beverage straws at any city facility or any city-sponsored event. COUNCIL INTRODUCTION DRAFT 7/17/18 4 9.165.040 Upon Request Provision of Plastic Cutlery or Stirrers. It shall be unlawful for any beverage provider or food provider to provide plastic cutlery or plastic stirrers to any person being served a beverage or prepared food for consumption on the premises of the beverage provider or food provider or to be taken away from the premises of the beverage provider or food provider unless the beverage provider or food provider first asks that person whether they want to receive the plastic cutlery or plastic stirrer and the person responds that he or she does.

What are the penalties for restaurants who fail to comply with this new law? They will face possible jail time for up to six months or an equivalent fine amounting to $1,000. The ordinance will go into affect on January 1, 2019.

The coffee giant Starbucks plans to abandon straws by 2020. However, their straw ban is being rightly questioned for its hypocritical nature:

It is hard to gauge exactly how much Starbucks’s decision to increase its use of plastic, but eliminate plastic straws, will help the environment. To some extent the move to Nitro lids feels like a way to channel some easy PR from the growing anti-straw movement, rather than a meaningful sustainability initiative.

There is a growing number of companies and corporations following their leads. Yikes.

Who will especially lose with this proposed ban? Disabled Americans. Eater has a great piece on the burden these proposed straw bans have on those with disabilities:

1. Plastic straws are considered unnecessary items used by environmentalists as a “gateway plastic” to engage the public on a larger conversation about waste. According toDune Ives, executive director of the Lonely Whale Foundation, “Plastic straws are social tools and props, the perfect conversation starter.” But one person’ssocial propis another person’s conduit for nutrition. It’s as if people who rely on straws — older adults, children, and disabled people — don’t matter and that our needs are less important than the environment. I feel erased by these attitudes.

2. Plastic straws are ubiquitous, whether we like it or not. Once you have something that provides access, it is difficult and harmful to take itaway from a marginalized communitythat depends on it. I live in a world that was never built for me, and every little bit of access is treasured and hard-won. Bans on plastic straws are regressive, not progressive.

The plastic straw ban is symptomatic of larger systemic issues when it comes to the continual struggle for disability rights and justice. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) turns 28 next week, on July 26, and yetpeople with disabilities continue to face barriersat eating establishments. The ADA is considered by many small businesses (and theNational Restaurant Association) as a source of frivolous lawsuits brought by greedy lawyers and clients. Ableist attitudes that cast disabled people as “fakers” or “complainers” obscure the very real and painful experiences of not being able to eat and drink freely.

Even the progressives at Vox think this is a step too far.

There are few things more heartbreaking than hearing from “progressives” that my life, and those of other disabled people, is not worth living — that we should be left to die if we can’t adhere to the latest performative progressive trend…Disability studies scholar Kim Sauder was one of the first to express concerns about the implications, bringing up an issue that many nondisabled people — and some disabled people — hadn’t considered. Some people need straws to drink because they are unable to lift a cup to their mouths.

Those seeking to ban straws in restaurants are virtue signaling their environmental consciousness at best—yet they don’t dare to ban plastic cups or containers. Why? The impact a straw ban will have on the environment is minimal, at best. This is solely rooted in control and collecting revenue. Restaurants will be criminalized like those busted for drug offenses. Ridiculous.

Santa Barbara is a beautiful yet kooky town. Having spent a summer there in 2010, I can attest to that. People flock to Santa Barbara for a romantic escape or day trip to get away from Los Angeles or urban metropolises. People don’t flock there to embrace statist policies.

Let’s hope the locals challenge this law!

About the author

Gabriella Hoffman

Gabriella Hoffman is a media strategist based in the Washington, D.C. Metro Area. She has written for The Resurgent since March 2016 and serves as their D.C. Correspondent.

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