The Coast News Group

Encinitas’ ban on Styrofoam temporarily shelved

ENCINITAS — Encinitas has temporarily shelved its proposed ban on Styrofoam food service products, citing the need to lessen the impact on local restaurants.

The ordinance was supposed to be discussed at the Oct. 14 city council meeting, but City Manager Karen Brust decided to keep it off the agenda late last week.

“The ordinance itself may be fine, but what we (the city) didn’t do was ask for an implementation strategy,” Encinitas City Councilwoman Lisa Shaffer said. Shaffer has been one of the ordinance’s biggest supporters.

“It is unrealistic for us to go from zero to 60 in one step, so we asked the city manager to slow things down so we can look at different strategies for implementation,” Shaffer said.

The ordinance would have banned expanded polystyrene products at restaurants, such as to-go boxes and cups. Supporters, including the Surfrider Association, say that packaging products pollute the environment in their manufacturing and wind up at beaches and other waterways where it can harm marine life.

Restaurant owners and the California Restaurant Association came out in force to oppose the ordinance at a public meeting in late September, arguing that the alternative packaging products were prohibitively expensive and could force some businesses out of Encinitas, a claim that supporters of the ban dispute.

Shaffer said the delay gives the city time to develop strategies that will soften the blow of a ban to restaurants, including potentially phasing the ban’s implementation or bulk purchasing of alternative products to lower the price for restaurant owners.

“I am happy that we are taking our time to do it right,” Shaffer said. “There are a lot of things we can do to make this more successful and I am going to try to help do that.”