“I hate them, hate them, hate them, hate them!”
Now that plastic straws are illegal in Encinitas, it may be the issue that breaks voters' backs.
As of August 1, a city ordinance required the elimination of plastic straws by gas stations, take out, and drive-thru restaurants. Most have not complied.
The Speedway gas station at the I-5/Birmingham Drive exit in Cardiff by the Sea was one of the first to switch to paper straws in mid-June. “Customers hate them,” said an area manager who asked not to be identified.
“They [paper straws] dissolve in their mouths a few miles down the road, so customers are taking five at time now,” he said. “It’s the little things like this that drive customers away,” noting that other local business have not switched to paper straws.
The manager stated he has over 5,000 plastic straws stored at the station that will be thrown away. “The company keeps sending them. I can’t recycle them. I can’t return them. Customers beg for them but we can’t give them out or we’ll be fined.”
While waiting to order at the McDonald’s drive-thru on Encinitas Boulevard, Julia, from Cardiff, was asked what she thought of the paper straws she would be receiving with her order. “I hate them, hate them, hate them, hate them!” she exclaimed, stating she was responding for the other three woman in her car, all nodding in agreement.
“They [paper straws] are not recyclable,” shouted one of the women from the backseat. True, because of the wax content used in manufacturing paper straws. The plastics industry likes to point out it take more resources to make paper straws than plastic.
McDonald’s is testing the use of paper straws at some locations in the U.S. Most North County McDonald’s still use plastic straws. A San Marcos local posted on Facebook, because of the straw issue, she will no longer be purchasing food from the Encinitas McDonald’s. Another post stated one would drive to other nearby cities to purchase drinks with what has been labeled . . . “a real straw.”
Steve Amster, owner of Garden State Bagels on El Camino Real, said he doesn’t see a problem with paper straws. “The real issue is why I can go to the supermarket and get a free vegetable plastic bag or pays 10 cents for a reusable plastic bag at checkout,” Amster questioned.
“Straws aren’t a problem at the beach,” chimed in one of Amster’s customers.
The straw issue may spill over into the Encinitas mayor’s race in November. Incumbent and fourth-generation Cardiffian, Mayor Catherine Blakespear, has a formidable challenger in candidate Julie Thunder from Cardiff.
Blakespear is known throughout the county as a populist mayor who focuses on a progressive agenda of environmental, mobility, housing, and inclusionary issues. Those that normally attend city council meetings on such issues love her, and the usual 5-0 council votes with shows of support with their “jazz hands” (clapping is discourages at council meetings.) She was overwhelmingly reelected in 2018 capturing 85 percent of the vote.
Blakespear is now being accused by Thunder and others as being a friend of developers over state-mandated high density housing regulations, premature closure of the city’s Rail Train pedestrian walkway and beaches during the initial COVID crisis, and turning the city’s vehicle roadways over to bicyclists with the narrowing addition of city-wide bike lanes and speed humps.
One McDonalds customer waiting for his food, when asked about the paper straws in relationship to the mayor’s race, joked, “This stupid paper straw thing is the final straw.”