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Exclusive: Is Pacifica City Council Finally Ready to Ban Polystyrene (Styrofoam) Food Containers?

RIPTIDE CORRESPONDENT                     

Last year, Pacifica City Council got ahead of itself in considering an ordinance to ban food containers made from polystyrene, the synthetic “foam” known by its trade name Styrofoam, which never biodegrades into the soil. The council hadn’t worked with restaurants to explain the why and the how of the ordinance, as did our neighboring cities Millbrae and South San Francisco, which already have banned poly containers.

Now the vetting has happened, and on Monday, September 14, our City Council again is getting ready to address a source of litter in Pacifica’s streets, creeks, beaches, and ocean. The problem is that there’s now talk of a voluntary "ban" on polystyrene. Use or nonuse of polystyrene is already voluntary. Many responsible merchants who listened to their customers stopped using it, or have never used it, preferring paper-based alternatives.

A majority of the council already has individually expressed support for a ban, and no member has spoken of a sham voluntary ordinance. Pacificans who want a clean, scenic city can help pass the ban by emailing a letter to the editor of the Pacifica Tribune. You also can speak at the council meeting and/or email the council to the attention of City Manager Steve Rhodes in care of o'connellk@ci.pacifica.ca.us

Your letter to the editor must include your full name, street address, and phone number. The editor won't print your address or phone in the newspaper, but she must have that information on file. Email letters by Friday 10 a.m. to Elaine Larsen at elarsen@bayareanewsgroup.com for the following Wednesday's issue.

Scores of Pacificans volunteer regularly to pick up other people’s litter. Let’s stop some of the litter at the source. Be part of the solution, not the pollution!


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Thanks for the info, Bill. Anyone who can come out to the September 14 Pacifica City Council meeting and voice their support of this ban would be of great help to the cause. Bill thinks public comment will begin around 8 p.m.

I agree that a statewide ban would be ideal, and that may well happen. But it is up to the coastal cities to lead the way.

A plastic bag ban is a lot trickier, and would probably lead to an expensive lawsuit. Our little town can't afford that, so we will have to let larger communities fight that battle for now.

Why don't we ban plastic bags while we are at it? Save some time later down the line, show that we might have hope of being efficient at something.

"I'd rather have the state pass the law than Pacifica"

Pacifica's law and those of other responsible cities and counties can be cited as good examples when we argue for state and national legislation on the subject. Gotta start somewhere.

"...but it's better than waiting for the state to do it for us."

I'd rather have the state pass the law than Pacifica. At least then it might have some impact. Instead, we get another piddly, little law that lets a few people feel good about themselves, with no measurable effect on pollution. It seems like Pacifica's citywide hobby is to figure out ways to add even more burdens to already struggling local mom & pops.

Pacifica businesses must feel like endlessly whacked Piñatas, and it's yet another reason Pacifica's economy is so weak compared to other cities in the Bay Area.

Thanks, Bill! I hope Pacifica will stop putting garbage in the ocean.

A year ago I hoped Pacifica could be ahead of the curve and pass an ordinance then. At this point, the best we can hope for is to be slightly behind the curve, but it's better than waiting for the state to do it for us.

I am a believer in solving problems by conversation where possible. I (and I am sure many others) have convinced business owners to use recyclable packaging. It has been long enough and there are enough talkative environmentalists in this town that I would dare say that every business owner has had a chance to hear about it many times and had time to act upon it. I am guessing that it is now time to insist. Some kind of survivable fine is probably appropriate by now. Change happens.

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