Plans to expand a pilot food scrap recycling program took a few baby steps forward Tuesday, as the Santa Barbara City Council voted to spend up to $100,000 toward composting leftovers from downtown restaurants at a compost company just outside Santa Maria, Engel & Gray. Currently, about 70 food producers-including City College, Cottage Hospital, a few schools, and large restaurants-are participating in a program that’s already diverted 670,000 pounds of leftover food from the Tajiguas landfill. The plan was to launch a full-fledged commercial food scrap program this spring, but city officials said they needed more time to work with downtown business owners. Under discussion is a $50 a ton fee, which city officials contend is $16 cheaper than the new landfill dumping charge that will go into effect next year. Some business owners have said that there’s not enough space for existing recycling containers, let alone new ones. City recycling czar Steven McIntosh said that by composting leftovers rather than dumping them in a landfill, City Hall can dramatically reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. He estimates that there are up to 400 food-serving businesses downtown that generate thousands of tons of food-waste yearly.