Solana Beach council agrees on helium balloon ban

Solana Beach City Hall
(Staff photo)

Solana Beach is banning balloons filled with helium or other lifting gasses, following City Council approval of a new ordinance on April 27.

“Balloons have been a symbol of celebration for so long, but the harm they do is absolutely nothing to celebrate at all,” Solana Beach Mayor Lesa Heebner said.

The ordinance, which is now pending a second reading by the council at a meeting next month, is designed to cut down on plastic pollution that can accumulate in the ocean and cause harm to animals, both in the sea and on land. It would specifically prevent the sale, use and distribution of “any type of balloon inflated with any gas lighter than air within the city.” It also makes it illegal to release those types of balloons into the air, where they will eventually fall in the ocean or on land.

The ordinance is also designed to preserve helium for medical reasons and other scientific purposes.

“We don’t want to waste helium because it’s an important resource for medical reasons,” Solana Beach resident Kristin Brinner said during public comment. “There is no reason for us to be dumping plastics and stuff out in our environment. So I hope that this is another step to removing the single-use plastics we have polluting our environment.”

Residents and local groups such as the Surfrider Foundation have been asking for a ban on balloons, according to a report from the city manager.

Other cities throughout the United States have adopted similar laws. Earlier this year, the Encinitas City Council approved an ordinance to ban balloons filled with helium or other lifting gasses.

“As someone who frequently cleans up the beach — not in an organized manner, I just do it — there’s way too much plastic waste, but also balloon waste,” Solana Beach City Councilwoman Jewel Edson said. “And it’s shocking, not just the balloons but the strings that I find things tied up in.”