County approves drafting of ordinance to restrict plastic straws

Signal file photo of the state's Capitol building in Sacramento

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted unanimously to restrict plastic straws in the county’s unincorporated areas.

If the draft ordinance gets final approval and goes into effect in January 2019, the unincorporated parts of L.A. County will see restaurants, bars and fast food establishments subjected to a restriction on plastic straws unless requested, which affects Santa Clarita Valley areas such as Castaic, Val Verde and Stevenson Ranch.

Gov. Jerry Brown had already signed a bill limiting full-service restaurants supplying plastic, but this motion covers more restaurants and helps the disabled, co-authors Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Janice Hahn said on Tuesday.

Fifth District Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who governs the Santa Clarita Valley, said the motion was supplemental to the statewide law.

“Gov. Brown signed AB 1884 into law, which will prohibit full-service restaurants from providing single-use straws unless requested by a customer,” she said in an emailed statement. “This begins Jan. 1, 2019. The board approved a motion on Tuesday that symbolically aligns with the new state mandate by directing staff to prepare an ordinance requiring businesses serving food and beverages in unincorporated areas to ask a customer if they would like a plastic straw or sip stirrer before providing them.”

The restriction on plastic straws is supposed to reduce the amount of plastic in the environment, Kuehl said at the meeting.

“So many of the plastic straws that end up being thrown out are ones that customers didn’t need or want,” Hahn said. “With a relatively small change of making plastic straws available only upon request, we can make a big difference.”  

The countywide ordinance on plastic straws, if approved, would go into law the same time as the statewide bill next year.

Cities like Santa Clarita would not be affected by the ordinance.The draft ordinance will come back to the board for a vote in time for it to potentially take effect in January.

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