The town’s beach committee will have a special meeting Monday night to hear arguments about the proposed straw ban before it decides whether to present the ordinance to the Town Council.
Town Manager Matt Benoit is recommending the town not to get involved with the ordinance, but resident Marilu Cristina Flores, who wrote the ordinance, says she’s pushing for the local government to listen to what the residents want.
“I have a good feeling about the meeting. The response I have been getting from the community about the ordinance has been positive,” said Flores. “After doing a Facebook poll from the residents, about 85 percent of people are in favor of the ban.”
Flores presented her ordinance at the last committee meeting on April 25. The committee wanted to do more research and have a separate meeting about the subject before possibly presenting the idea to the council.
“The presentation that [Flores] gave was very informative and interesting,” Betsy Munson, vice-chair of the beach committee said last month. “We just need some more research.”
The committee as well as the town staff conducted their own research. On the agenda, beach committee members shared articles about the impact of plastic on the ocean and statistics from the Loggerhead Marine Life Center about how one day without plastic straws can make a difference within the community.
Benoit submitted a weekly update to the Town Council from April 6 that lists some of the research from the town staff. Specifically, Benoit looked at Fort Myers Beach’s ordinance and spoke to its town environmental coordinator, Ray Burns.
“It is pretty simple,” Benoit said about the ordinance. “It prohibits distributing plastic straws within the town. In that respect, it’s not illegal to possess, only to distribute.”
However, Benoit said that Fort Myers, which has a population of 6,500, is different from Jupiter because it’s a smaller town and has fewer dining spots to police. There are about 40 establishments that are mostly local bars and restaurants, Benoit said in his memo to the council.
“My recommendation is to stay away from any sort of plastic straw ban,” wrote Benoit. “I don’t see it reasonably enforced by town staff, largely because the number of businesses that would be affected in Jupiter is probably five to 10 times more than what Fort Myers Beach faced.”
Flores said she is aware that Benoit is not in favor of the ban, but thinks that it is plausible for Jupiter to enforce it.
“I don’t think it’s hard to regulate it,” she said. “A lot of it is from self-reporting places not following the ban through the Town of Jupiter app.”
If it’s population and amount of businesses that need policing that Benoit is worried about, Flores said that Miami Beach, which has a population of 92,000, has made a straw ban ordinance work.
“Miami Beach is a little bigger than Jupiter, but has similar community interests,” said Flores.
Benoit did write, “Town staff is comfortable with a public education campaign if the Town Council wishes to address this issue.”
The beach committee meeting will be held at the Jupiter Community Center at 6:30 p.m. Monday. Residents who want to voice their opinions will have three minutes to speak.