Hallandale Beach commissioners find favor with proposed plastic straw ban

Proposed ordinance unanimously passes in first reading

A proposed ordinance in Hallandale Beach would prohibit the sale or use of plastic straws in the city, in the hopes of cutting down on sights like this.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Hallandale Beach is one step closer to prohibiting plastic straws in the city.

City commissioners voted 5-0 Wednesday evening in favor of a proposed ordinance that would make the "distribution, sale or use of plastic beverage straws" illegal.

Commissioner Richard Dally, who sponsored the proposal, said the measure "should be a building block toward making our city more green and more of a leader on environmental issues."

City resident Etty Sims spoke in favor of reducing the use of plastic straws during the public comments portion of Wednesday's commission meeting. Sims said she often finds plastic straws in the sand during beach cleanups in the city and asked commissioners whether they drink with straws when they're at home.

"Why do you think you need to do this then when you go to a restaurant?" she asked. "Next time you go out, order your drink without a straw." 

Sims pitched the idea of using stainless steel straws as a necessary alternative when drinking milkshakes, for example.

Buddy Sparrow also pleaded with commissioners to vote for the proposal.

Sparrow, who lives in Boca Raton, said he had a crazy idea to buy thousands of paper straws that he brought to all the restaurants on Deerfield Beach Island. The environmental crusader praised the proposed law because it includes distributors instead of just restaurants. 

Under the proposal, violators could face fines starting at $100.

Sparrow believes the penalties should be higher.

"I don't think 100 bucks is enough to convince a corporation," he said.

Sparrow said the actions of Hallandale Beach could lead to bans on plastic straws throughout the state.

However, Commissioner Michele Lazarow cautioned that the state legislature routinely stalls the city's environmental efforts.

"I wouldn't say it's going statewide," Lazarow said.

City Attorney Jennifer Merino agreed, saying the state could intervene.

"I hope I'm wrong, but I do see this being preempted," Lazarow said.

After the vote, Dally asked to defer the next reading until December to give him time to meet with stakeholders about implementing the law "without hurting them as much as possible."

Dally then thanked the other commissioners for sharing his vision on reducing waste in the city.

"This is about the future, and I'm happy that everyone voted for this," he said.

Commissioners agreed to to defer the next reading until Sept. 5 to give Dally a month to speak with business owners. 

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