Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Alameda may look into restrictions on bars, restaurants providing drinking straws

The proposal "straws on request" ordinance is
similar to the "water on request" restrictions
employed during the last drought.
During the depths of the most recent drought, many municipalities enacted restrictions on water use, including one somewhat symbolic method of conservation, restaurants giving patrons a glass of water only upon request.

Now, an Alameda grassroots environmental group is using a similar method to prohibit bars and restaurants from handing out drinking straws to customers unless asked.

A council referral placed by Alameda Mayor Trish Herrera Spencer on Tuesday's agenda seeks to direct staff to study the proposal.

"By only providing straws on request, restaurants, bars and other food vendors can significantly reduce the disposal of single-use plastic. This simple action will reduce costs and can have incredibly positive, far-reaching effects on our planet," wrote the Community Action for a Sustainable Alameda (CASA), in a letter to the Alameda City Council.

The group claims Alamedans use roughly 45 million drinking straws a year and they are often found as litter on city beaches. The Alameda public schools already prohibit drinking straws, wrote CASA.

In recent months, the Alameda City Council has heard referrals on issues ranging from declaring itself a sanctuary city, revising its rules of order, and protecting birds.

Some have criticized the amount of time expended on already lengthy public meetings and the council recently established guidelines for streamlining its referral process. One change sought for councilmembers to prioritize each referral.

Despite the varying degrees of importance within on a number of recent referrals, Spencer noted earlier this month that a referral asking city staff to examine the feasibility of raising the minimum wage in Alameda has not been discussed by the council since it was first placed on an agenda last fall.


  1. Seems silly until you see the number. I never use them. Seems reasonable.

  2. By MW:

    If I should ever open a food and/or drinking establishment in Alameda, and although the probability of my doing so is extremely low, I might find it hard, or even impossible, to resist the urge to engage in the major felony of handing my customers drinking straws.

    However if Alameda's highest ranking officials think they can find the money and personnel to more closely monitor bars and restaurants, I would then suggest they ignore the issue of drinking straws, and instead more strongly emphasize sanitation and proper food handling issues in restaurants, and including since those particular items are so extremely horrible in a high percentage of restaurants, that therefore if most customers actually knew what went on in many restaurants, and especially the kitchen, a lot of the customers would refuse to eat in those restaurants even for free.

  3. By MW:

    For various reasons, and including that for a number of years I was involved in businesses that provided services, and including to restaurants and drinking establishments, etc, I am considerably more familiar than the majority of people as to the types of things that go on in bars, restaurants, nightclubs, etc which most people do not to get to see.

    And the level of "sanitation" in a huge portion of restaurants, and including when food is accidentally dumped on the floor then being put right back in the container, AND USUALLY WITHOUT EVEN BEING QUICKLY RINSED, is many times worse than most people would ever even slightly consider tolerating in their own home kitchen.

    And the standard policies used in many restaurants in regard to the methods they use to "wash" and "sanitize" the dishes and silverware are so extremely horrible, that it is truly almost a miracle that any of us are still alive.

    So if the city of Alameda wants to more closely regulate bars and restaurants, then I would strongly suggest it not bother wasting its money and manpower on such an extremely minor issue as drinking straws, but instead concentrate its resources on health, safety, and sanitation in food and drinking establishments.

  4. ALAMEDA: Wonderful way to reduce the number of straws on the beach, though I never thought of that, by itself and in isolation, to be a problem of relative significance. If you want to reduce the amount of restaurant crap deposited there, or that is deposited there and then remains there: (1) make McDonald's stop providing not only plastic straws, but also paper or plastic cups, wrappers, boxes, etc., and only allow folks to carry out of the place food that they carry in their bare hands or in their personal, reusable canvass bags, or (2) require as part of McDonald's CUP that it send someone out for half an hour or so everyday to clean up everything on the beach within a quarter mile radius of the McDonald's that has an "M" on it. McD's can pay for the extra insurance.