It Is Forbidden

From ketchup to construction materials, California lawmakers’ impulse to ban is inexhaustible.

There is nothing so useful, so convenient, so inoffensive that it can’t be banned in California. Los Angeles, the largest city in a state that started the fast-food boom, has decided that condiment packets should be treated as a suspicious substance. They haven’t been banned outright, but customers can get ketchup, mustard, relish, and other spreads in their takeout orders only if they request them. The ordinance applies to restaurants with 26 or more employees (apparently a magic sum in the Golden State). It also forbids workers from handing out napkins and plastic utensils with takeout orders unless customers ask for them. By April 2022, all L.A. restaurants will have to comply.

Two months later, the entire state will come under the same limitations. The recently passed Assembly Bill 1276 prohibits “a food facility from providing any single-use foodware accessory or standard condiment, as defined, to a consumer unless requested by the consumer.” The law will apply to both dine-in and takeout orders.

Somehow, we are told, California’s inexhaustible urge to ban virtually any item humans have found worthwhile will help the world avoid the disaster of man-made global warming. “If we are to overcome the extreme climate challenges we face, we will have to alter or otherwise transform all our habits relating to fossil fuel products, including plastics, and our essential natural resources, like forests,” said L.A. councilman Paul Koretz, who coauthored the city’s ordinance. (Note: California produces only about 1 percent of global greenhouse emissions.) Or perhaps the ban will just help clean things up, since Californians are evidently careless and unrepentant litterbugs. “Plastic utensils and condiment packets create unnecessary trash, pollute waterways and harm marine life. CA is changing that!” tweeted assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo, co-author of AB1276, last month.

Condiments, napkins, and plastic utensils are joining a lengthy list of consumer products already banned or restricted, including single-use plastic bags, plastic straws, Styrofoam food containers, sales of new gasoline- and diesel-powered automobiles (to end by 2035), new gas stations (in Petaluma and Novato), natural gas connections in new homes (which began in Berkeley), and plastic shampoo bottles in hotels.

Just as rust never sleeps, neither does the political impulse to forbid. In Los Angeles, for instance, the city council’s Public Safety Committee has approved a plan to expand Fire District 1, a tract that includes many of the city’s high-density commercial zones. The move “would effectively ban timber and wood-frame construction in much of the city,” says Pacific Research Institute fellow Nolan Gray. The prohibition would include “many rapidly growing neighborhoods near transit,” forcing developers “to use concrete and steel, building materials that come with substantial added financial and environmental costs.” The stated intent is to improve fire safety, but the move will provide no clear benefits while raising construction costs, Gray says. A Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety review determined that expanding Fire District 1 would raise building material costs by at least 10.6 percent and possibly as much as 47.1 percent. The sharply rising home costs that are sure to follow will price even more people out of a housing market that’s already among the nation’s most expensive.

Unlike most California prohibitions, the building-material ban isn’t a vehicle for virtue-signaling. According to Gray, it’s “being advanced by and for business and labor interests in the concrete industry, which has aggressively promoted the measure as a way to ban competition.” This comes as no surprise, since California policymaking is often shaped by powerful union interests. But bans are bans, and those who must live with their consequences don’t much care what motivates them. For them, the hassle is the same.

This article was originally published on the City Journal


  1. There are endless ways for politicians to control the way people live, this is only a continuation of the process ongoing for many years. A politician has to “do something” to warrant being there. Since they cannot tackle any serious needs of their constituents due to fear of offending someone somewhere, their laws and actions tend to the ridiculous and inane.

  2. Or, maybe they wish to minimize arsonist/peaceful protester damage by banning the more-flammable timber and wood-frame construction.

    Nah. Unions don’t think that far ahead. They never realize their leaders are destroying union jobs, putting employers out of business.

  3. So I guess it’s probably safe to say that they will start burning disposable diapers in the future toilet paper or and making people bring their own cups and straws to Starbucks and other businesses that sell drinks to go to cut down on disposable waste so you don’t have greenhouse gases are you people in California need to wake up and get rid of these communist running that state

  4. democrats are tyrants and liars and the sheep are happy. Ridding themselves of the democrat yoke would leave them in the desperate situation of work and self reliance. So they keep them.

  5. There in no power in “YES”: as long as we the people have to ask our government overlords for permission to do anything, then bribe them via permits/fees.

  6. Mr. Pickle says

    As time goes by, it appears that maybe the 2nd. Amendment may be needed for many of us who NEVER expected what is happening TODAY to lead us down the trail to keep the country we love intact and our freedoms open and secure………….
    Sad I even have to even say this.

    God, we need the guts and morals of the Greatest Generation back, as our State & Fed current leadership, as well as the folks who voted for these folks in office – are trying to destroy our country, our constitution, our education system, law & legal process and with current BBB process to bankrupt the red, white and blue. Call your elected officials, and put Respectful pressure on them to FIGHT for US, our children and grandchildren NOT against us……… BE part of the solution, and not the problem. It is time.

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