Santa Barbara, CA – A California city is under criticism after published reports stated that it would send food servers to jail for handing out plastic straws.
But city of Santa Barbara officials said that the plan to imprison people for up to six months for the sale or distribution of plastic straws hasn't been implemented yet.
According to the city’s website, the proposed plastic straw ban was brought back into committee on July 24 for more discussion and further revision.
The city’s website states: “Santa Barbara City Council is considering the adoption of an ordinance prohibiting the distribution and sale of plastic straws as well as limitations to the distribution of plastic stirrers and cutlery which can only be provided ‘upon request.’”
The ordinance cited chapter 1.28 from the city's municipal code for penalties and enforcement. According to Fox News, enforcement would start with a warning and then increase to a “fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), imprisonment for a term not exceeding six (6) months” for repeat offenders.
Fox News reported that if approved, that penalty would be the harshest in the country. Earlier in July, the city of Seattle banned plastic straws and fines businesses $250 for each offense.
This move comes after the state of California made it legal to intentionally give somebody HIV.
Nina Johnson, senior assistant to the city administrator of Santa Barbara, said that nobody is facing jail time for their straw ban, according to Fox News.
“Santa Barbara has not adopted a law banning plastic straws. A law is still being crafted to reduce the use of plastic straws,” Johnson told Fox News. “No one will go to jail for using a plastic straw or providing a straw to a customer. There is no intention to strictly enforce the ordinance. The city’s plan is to work cooperatively with restaurants to ensure straws are available by request.”
Johnson said the ordinance language citing penalties will likely be deleted because there was no intention to penalize businesses with jail time or fines.
John Yoo, Heller professor law at UC Berkeley School of Law, criticized the proposed ordinance as “silly”.
“Santa Barbara’s silly environmental policies demonstrate the misgovernment of California cities,” Yoo said, according to Fox News. “Violent crime and property crime in the state are rising. The homeless are making our streets increasingly unsafe. Instead of addressing these basic public safety problems, cities like Santa Barbara are sending the police off to chase soda drinkers who like to use straws.”