Long Beach City Council approves expansion on the ban of polystyrene products

Council also approves funds to continue the construction of concession stand renovations at Junipero and Granada beach.


Courtesy City of Long Beach

A rendering of the "water play" area that is being built next to the new concession stand at Granada Beach.

At its Feb. 4 meeting, the Long Beach City Council discussed the death of Civil Rights icon and Long Beach resident, Gene Lentzer, concession stands along the beach and an amendment to the ban on polystyrene.

Gene Lentzer

Mayor Robert Garcia began the meeting by asking for a moment of silence in memory of Gene Lentzer, a long-time resident known for his activism.

In his remarks, Garcia described Lentzer as a “loving, kind and generous person,” who strived to fight for civil rights, even when it was met with resistance.

“There’s a lot to love about Gene’s legacy, and […] his work in the community,” Garcia said. “But what I think is most significant about what he did is, he has, through his organizational support, really helped create and educate this entire generation of young people in this city on what it really means to lead with integrity, ethics and to focus on issues of equity and equality across our community.”

Lentzer, who died on Sunday, Feb. 2, at the age of 98 at St. Mary Medical Center. He was born on April 17, 1922.

Concessions Renovations

The Public Works department presented a staff report on the renovations of the concession stands at Junipero and Granada Beach.

In the report from Joshua Hickman and Eric Lopez, the department asked the council for approval to award a contract to General Consolidated, Inc. for the amount of $2,879,460.

The funds will be used to begin construction on the play areas located at the Granada Beach and Junipero locations.

Per a slide show, construction at the Junipero Beach concession will include a playground and café. The site also features a fitness station and pickleball and basketball courts, which were completed in phase one.

The Granada section will also include a “water play” area for children, and a dog-rinse station.

The presentation also touched on the City’s efforts to select “unique” operators for new concessions stands.

“We also have a collaborative effort with other city colleagues that we’re working to really get some new beach concessionaire into each of these locations,” Hickman said. “That is currently underway.”

Hickman continued by stating that the department will return to the council for approval when vendors are selected to operate the concession stands.

The renovations at Junipero and Granada Beach are part of four projects that also include renovations at the Alamitos and Bayshore beaches.

The council approved the recommendation by a 9-0 vote.

Polystyrene Ban

During the meeting, Craig Beck, director of Public Works, and his team provided an update on amendments to the city ordinance banning the use of polystyrene products in the city.

In October, the council asked the city attorney to consider an amendment that would expand the ordinance to include plastic or bio-plastic straws.

The current ordinance was adopted in April 2018, and banned the use of polystyrene (EPS) foam, rigid polystyrene No. 6 and non-recyclable and non-compostable utensils.

The ban was implemented in three phases. The first stage banned polystyrene products from city-owned locations and events. The second phase, which began in March 2019, banned the use of plastic straws for “large” food providers, who had more than 101 seats.

The third phase was implemented in December 2019, and covered food providers that served less than 101 seats.

The new amendment would begin what was described as a “fourth” phase that will ban the use of plastic straws throughout the city.

However, a member of Beck’s team informed the council that the team had made last minute changes that would allow for exemptions for people with disabilities.

“We are going to recommend that the city council consider an exemption for consumers who identify as a person with disability making the use of a plastic straw a necessity for them,” the member said.

Under the exemption, people with disability will be provided a straw if they ask for one.

The team also discussed its recommendations for a ban that would extend into retail sales.

Under the new recommendations, vendors will not be allowed to sell, rent or provide polystyrene food-service ware that are not covered by a more durable material. This extends to cups, cup lids, condiment cups, food trays, plates and more.

Additionally, the person, vendor, business or event planner will not be allowed to sell, distribute or otherwise provide polystyrene packing material–– such as foam packing peanuts.

“You can see what we’re doing is fairly forward-thinking, but we’re not the first ones out there. There are other cities who have done similar bans,” the team member said.

The presentation ended by touting the success of the city’s Foam Free LB program. Due to the programs outreach, the city was able to achieve 85% compliance.

The council approved the amendment by 9-0.

The Long Beach City Council meetings are held on Tuesday, with the exception of the last Tuesday of the month. Council meetings are held in council chambers in the civic center plaza, 411. W. Ocean Blvd.