Waiters in Santa Barbara Will Soon Face Jail Time for…Handing Out Straws to Customers?

Whatever happened to the idea of California succeeding from the nation?

Because if Santa Barbara’s new straw regulations are any indication, I think they’d be much happier if they just went full fascist and stopped pretending to be something they’re not, i.e., part of a free nation.

Here’s the deal: new regulations in Santa Barbara, obviously geared towards saving the planet, or at least, giving the impression of somehow reducing the amount of plastic that goes in the ocean or whatever, can land servers in jail–JAIL–for giving a plastic straw to a customer if the customer has not asked for it.

National Review explains:

The city of Santa Barbara has passed an ordinance that will allow restaurant employees to be punished with up to six months of jail time or a $1,000 fine for giving plastic straws to their customers.

The bill was passed unanimously last Tuesday, and covers bars, restaurants, and other food-service businesses. Establishments will still be allowed to hand out plastic stirrers, but only if customers request them.

Santa Barbara’s ordinance “is likely the most severe straw ban in the country,” according to Reason, but it’s far from the only straw ban. Seattle banned plastic straws earlier this month, mandating a a $250 fine for violators. Santa Barbara, however, has gone much further than Seattle — even aside from the harsher punishments its law imposes. Santa Barbara has banned not only plastic straws, but also compostable straws. Oh, and each individual straw counts as a separate infraction, meaning that if someone got busted handing out straws to a table of four people, he or she could end up facing years behind bars.

These waiters and baristas are going to have a heck of a time explaining to their cellmates how they ended up in the slammer.

Now, if you’re as shocked as I am that a liberal city actually went this far, you may be significantly less surprised to learn that it probably won’t do a darn thing for the planet. 

As Reason notes, straws represent only 0.02 percent of the amount of plastic waste that is estimated to go into the ocean each year. What’s more, the United States is responsible for only about 1 percent of the total amount of plastic waste that’s in the ocean overall. All things considered, this new ordinance isn’t going to be making a real dent in the problem it’s intended to solve — but it could create some harm. As Reason explains, straw bans could end up having a negative impact on disabled people who cannot drink without them.