Boca Raton bans balloons and confetti at its parks

BOCA RATON — Another South Florida city banned balloons and confetti and restricted plastic foam at its parks and on city property.

Starting Jan. 1 in Boca Raton, food trucks and food stands won’t be allowed to use plastic foam on city property. Individuals and takeout businesses are exempted.

First-time violations come with a warning. After that, there’s a $25 fine. The fine rises to $50 for each subsequent violation.

Boca Raton joins about 25 others in Florida that have passed similar legislation including Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Dania Beach and Deerfield Beach, Miami Beach and Orlando. Boynton Beach passed a similar measure last month.

Councilwoman Monica Mayotte, who proposed Boca’s new law, said it’s aimed at keeping outdoor spaces free of materials that pollute the environment and harm marine life and other wildlife.

“We do know that this is very harmful in our environment and as a city, I want to show that we are mindful of this and want to try to do something to reduce the amount of harmful pollutants,” Mayotte said before the meeting. She says it’s a small step, but one that is within the power of city leaders.

A number of people ranging from college professors to real estate agents supported the rules during public comments, with some saying they wish it went farther.

Mayotte said she didn’t think the city had the authority to regulate restaurants and other brick-and-mortar businesses on this issue.

“The state has preempted us from doing a lot of things I’d like to do, so unfortunately, this is one of the few things left we can do to try to eliminate as much litter and plastic as we can,” she said.

The Florida Retail Federation, a retail industry trade group, objected to the proposal. A representative for the organization did not respond to requests for comment.

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Guillermo Asca, who said he worked for Party City and spoke on behalf the balloon industry, said balloon manufacturers should work to educate consumers on proper balloon disposal.

“The proposal as it’s currently drafted would send the wrong message about an industry that has brought joy to so many of all ages,” he said at Tuesday’s meeting. “Respectfully, we ask you to amend the ordinance.”

Asca suggested requiring balloons have weights and banning the intentional release of balloons, instead of a ban on balloons at city parks.

The council approved the law 5-0 at its first meeting in-person since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Mayotte said city staff would work on educational campaigns ahead of its effective date and would provide an update on enforcement efforts six months after it goes into effect.

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