By Jane Smith
Delray Beach could become the first Palm Beach County city to ban single-use plastic straws.
City commissioners unanimously approved a plastic straw ban at their mid-January meeting, effective Jan. 1, 2020. The second reading of the ordinance was set for Feb. 5, when it is likely to pass.
The ban will apply to plastic straws given to consumers at 190 restaurants and other businesses citywide. Exceptions will be given to hospitals, schools and nursing homes. Big-box and grocery stores that sell them for individual use are also exempt from the ban.
“Plastic never goes away. It just gets smaller and smaller,” Evan Orellana, education director at the Sandoway Discovery Center, said at the Jan. 15 commission meeting. “We will start with straws and go further.”
The center, on A1A in Delray Beach, focuses on marine ecosystems that include sharks and sea turtles.
The beachfront Caffe Luna Rosa last July began offering recyclable straws when customers requested straws. The restaurant purchased “corn-plastic” straws that are compostable and made by Eco-Products of Boulder, Colo., said restaurant founder Fran Marincola, who stopped issuing plastic straws except upon request at the start of 2018.
Until the ordinance takes effect, restaurants will be encouraged to provide straws only upon request. Code enforcement officers will visit restaurants and other businesses during the year to educate the businesses owners and their servers. Restaurants will be given “Skip the Straw Delray” decals for their windows.
After Jan. 1, staff suggested fines of $100 for the first offense, $200 for the second offense and $300 for the third within a 12-month period.
Major corporations, such as the Walt Disney Co., Starbucks and Royal Caribbean International, have joined the campaign against straws, said India Adams, assistant city manager. She made a presentation to the council in the absence of the city’s sustainability officer, Ana Puszkin-Chevlin.
Adams suggested that the city provide a written notice of the campaign when it sends out license renewals for businesses in the restaurant/bar category.
The plastic straw ban came out of the city’s Green Implementation Advancement Board. Members and the city staff held a skip-the-straw kickoff event last August at The OG, one of the newest bars in Delray Beach.
Delray Beach prides itself on being “green” and is the first Palm Beach County city to ban single-use plastic straws.
Five other South Florida cities already have bans in place or are in the process of passing them: Hallandale Beach, Miami Beach, Fort Myers Beach and Marco Island. The ban in Deerfield Beach goes into effect in April, Adams said.
In other business, City Manager Mark Lauzier received a 4 percent raise on his base salary of $235,000 by a vote of 3-2. This brings his salary to about $244,400. The raise will be retroactive to Nov. 6, the anniversary of his hire.
“He’s done a great job and the raise percentage fits into the 3 to 5 percent raises that city employees received,” said Commissioner Ryan Boylston.
Mayor Shelly Petrolia voted against the raise because Lauzier is already paid “a good salary.” She wants to see him improve his budget presentations and to get in front of critical issues, such as the Swinton Avenue plan that would remove trees to add bike lanes.
Deputy Vice Mayor Shirley Johnson also voted no because she said her comments and suggestions to Lauzier “were not well received.”