San Diego

Imperial Beach Moves Closer to Banning Single-Use Plastics

Sylvia Velasquez enjoys serving up soup and other Mexican cuisine with a little love and laughter at El Amigo Mexican and Seafood in Imperial Beach.

But she says the city's proposed single-use plastic ban ordinance, that unanimously passed its first reading Wednesday night, is no laughing matter.

“We’re going to have to rob Peter to pay Paul,” said Velasquez.

If the ban takes effect, it would be one of the strictest plastic bans in the state. Restaurants would have to do away with things like plastic cutlery, straws, cups and coffee stirrers, and instead use biodegradable compostable cutlery and utensils.

“Every change, everything everyone wants to do is good,” said Velasquez. “But they don’t think about how it's going to hurt the businesses. It hurts the small businesses more. Because everything is more expensive. "

Imperial Beach Councilmember Paloma Aguirre doesn’t agree.

“It will not, because here in Imperial Beach, we already have restaurants that have organically moved away from single-use plastics because it costs them less,” she said.

Aguirre is one of the councilmembers leading the charge for the ban. She said she’s frustrated at what she calls the “tsunami of plastic and Styrofoam” she's seen during her clean-ups in the Tijuana River Valley.

“We’re going to have more plastics in the ocean than there are fish. We need to figure out a way to minimize our usage and consumption as soon as possible."

Because of the California State Law, Imperial Beach’s ordinance would not affect those heavy-duty, reusable plastic bags you have to pay for in grocery stores.

The single-use plastic ban still has to pass one more vote before it would take effect in November of 2019.

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