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During tonight’s meeting, as a part of its declaration of a continuation of local emergency related to COVID-19, the Arcata City Council will consider delaying its ban on disposable to-go containers to ease the burden it would place on local restaurants during the pandemic.

The council adopted the ordinance banning single-use plastic foodwares back in February of this year as a part of the city’s Zero Waste Action Plan to help reduce waste and greenhouse gas emissions. The city expected it would take some time for businesses to adjust and enforcement of the ordinance is currently scheduled to begin in January 2021.

But with the impacts from the pandemic and the increased demand for takeout food orders, it seems that local restaurants are having a difficult time adjusting to the new restrictions, which included beginning to implement a 25 cent fee for some disposable containers to encourage customers to bring their own reusable ones.

“Between September and October 2020, City staff contacted 71 food service establishments to gain an understanding of their current implementation of the Ordinance and challenges they have experienced to date,” the city staff report states.  Many businesses have switched most of their single use foodware to a fiber based compostable alternative. However, none had begun charging the $0.25 fee, and those who provided feedback to staff believed the enforcement date is too soon given the additional burden it would place on establishments and customers during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Another issue with encouraging customers to bring their own reusable containers during the pandemic is it would require additional sanitation and handwashing steps, in order to comply with current protocols established by Humboldt County Environmental Health.

Because of these extra complications, the city staff is recommending that the council delay the enforcement of the ordinance until July 2021. 

“City staff will continue to support local businesses in transitioning to compliant materials, and will maintain an updated list of compliant materials,” the staff report states. More information on the city’s disposable foodware regulations can be found at this link.

The council will also receive an update on the city’s budget forecast, discuss establishing an award for “Community Member of the Year,” and more.

The Arcata City Council meets online tonight at 6:00 p.m.  You can view the full agenda here.

To watch or participate in the meeting, simply follow these handy instructions from the City of Arcata:

Members of the public can observe the meeting on television on Access Humboldt Channel 10, online by visiting and clicking on the See Live Meetings, Agendas, and Archives button on the home page, or on the City’s YouTube channel.

Public Comment Participation:

Members of the public may access the Zoom meeting directly to provide Public Comment.

1. Join from a PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone or Android device: Please use this URL:

2. If you do not wish for your name to appear on the screen, then use the drop down menu and click on “rename” to rename yourself to be anonymous.

3. If you want to comment during the public comment portion of any item, click on raise your hand on the right-hand side of your screen. When it is time for public comment on the item on which you wish to speak, the Clerk will unmute you. You will have 3 minutes to comment, subject to the Mayor’s discretion.

Or join by phone:

1.*67 1-669-900-6833

2. Enter Meeting ID: 94554571769

3. If you are accessing the meeting via telephone and want to comment during the public comment portion of any item, press star (*) 9 on your phone. This will raise your hand. When it is time for public comment on the item on which you wish to speak, the Clerk will unmute your phone. You will hear a prompt that will indicate your phone is unmuted. You will have 3 minutes to comment, subject to the Mayor’s discretion.

4. NOTE: Your phone number will appear on the screen unless you first dial star (*) 67 before dialing the numbers as shown above.

How to Submit Written Public Comment:

Members of the public may provide public comment on an agenda item before the meeting by sending an email to Such email comments must identify the agenda item number in the subject line of the email. The comments WILL NOT be read during the meeting, but will be forwarded to the City Council members and included in the written record of the meeting. Persons wishing to have their comments heard during the meeting are encouraged to participate in the meeting via Zoom as outlined above.

Americans with Disabilities Act Accommodations:

Any member of the public who needs accommodations should email the City Clerk at bdory@cityofarcata.orgor by calling (707) 822-5953. The City Clerk will use their best efforts to provide reasonable accommodations to provide as much accessibility as possible while maintaining public health and safety.