San Francisco is pushing ahead with a proposed ban on plastic straws and the author of the legislation is pushing back on critics who say she did not take into account the need of disabled people.
The ban passed a committee vote on Monday and will go to the full board next week. There is every indication it will pass and plastic drinking straws and other plastic drink accessories will be banned. The only opposition to this has come from advocates for the disabled, and now that appears to be waning.
Plastic straws, cups, bottles and other single-use food ware make up 67 percent of the city's litter, according to San Francisco's Department of Environment.
Supervisor Katy Tang authored legislation to change that. Tang on Monday led a rally in support of the ban, just before it went up for a vote.
"As a supervisor representing a district that borders Ocean Beach, this is an issue that we see every day," Tang said.
Plastic trash in the ocean is a problem, a big impetus for support of the ban was a video of sea turtles with a plastic straw in its nostril.
The Surfrider Foundation joined Monday's rally, but across the Bay the communications director for a disability advocacy group has been a vocal critic.
Lawrence Carter-Long said he has been getting multiple calls a day after he complained about the ban's impact on disabled people. But Tang said a provision was written into the original legislation.
"We actually have a provision in there that exempts those who do need plastic straws for medical purposes," Tang said.
Carter-Long said he is thrilled that the legislation does provide for disabled people who need a plastic straw. He said the disabled have been forgotten so often that the default position is, "Hey, they forgot about us again."