Mylar balloons could be banned in California to guard against power outages

Balloon companies oppose proposed ban

SAN DIEGO - A proposed bill could make California the first state in the U.S. to ban Mylar balloons.

State Assemblyman Bill Quirk introduced Assembly Bill 2709 this year, which would ban the sale of metallic-lined balloons and punish anyone who released one into the air.

"My concerns foremost are health and safety," said the District 20 representative. "I think that this is a rational response to a big problem."

Quirk said Mylar balloons could cause power outages and explosions when they float into power lines. Those power outages cost businesses money, jeopardize community safety and put power line crews in danger.

San Diego Gas & Electric officials said their service area had 69 outages due to metallic balloons last year and 312 in the last five years.

"I cringe," said Joe Soprano of Fun Services in Miramar. "I'm afraid for the industry."

"I'm a little frustrated because I know there are other solutions we could take a look at," said Robert Constantino, owner of Mira Mesa-based Balloon Guru.

Constantino said a ban would cut 30 percent from his business, and he added it would be a net loss of $300 million, "if you take into consideration all the industries related to the balloon industry."

"It's going to affect so many, from florists to decorators, to party supply stores," said Soprano.

Quirk said the industry would evolve by adopting plastic balloons.

"It's a design and it's a good balloon, the bubble balloon," said Constantino. "But it's not going to be the answer to the loss of Mylars."

The balloon business owners argued California's current law is good enough. It requires all Mylar balloons to be weighted down so they can't fly away.

"They're making too much of a big deal out of it rather than just enforcing the law," said Soprano, who's been in business for 38 years in San Diego.

The Mylar balloon ban would go into effect at the beginning of 2018 if the bill becomes law.

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