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  • Writer's pictureTony Felice

San Diego Community News: Mission Beach woman cleans and crusades against littering at the beach

Updated: Sep 1, 2020

To read the full article, click here.

Just some of the trash Cathy Ives picks up daily at Mission Beach.

Cathy Ives is mad as hell and she’s not going to take it anymore. What she’s upset about is trash and irresponsible behavior at Mission Beach.

“I am done with the amount of drinking on the beach,” said Ives, who cleans up beach trash daily from the jetty to Belmont Park oceanfront.

“Friday morning I picked up more than 100 glass beer bottles. Sunday I picked up more than 50 glass beer bottles at Belmont Park. And there were five to seven illegal fires still burning, strewn with liquor bottles, glass, aluminum and plastic. It is too much.”

Noting glass bottles of any kind are forbidden everywhere on the beach any time, Ives added bottles and trash from fires are just a part of overall beach pollution.

Ives tried reporting beach clean-up issues on the City’s Get It Done App, but was not satisfied with the response.“They (city) said it needs to go to the police,” she said. “But there’s no place to put it, I reported it under illegal dumping, and they (police) said it needs to go someplace else.”

Ives was told at a Mission Beach Town Council meeting by a police representative that SDPD does not have the resources to do beach cleanup.

Ives has been complaining to various government agencies about beach cleanup problems for the past 18 months and continues to document the issues providing photos. “I have a whole Facebook album just devoted to this,” she said.

Ives is requesting that the City enforce its laws requiring:

• No drinking on the beach;

• No smoking on the beach;

• No glass bottles on the beach;

• No fires directly on sand on the beach;

• Enforcement of littering laws.

“Public safety is our top priority,” said José Ysea, supervising public information officer for City of San Diego. “During the summer months, the City of San Diego beefs up police and lifeguard presence in our beach areas. With 17 miles of coastline our personnel work diligently to enforce all laws and rules along our beaches and bays.

“As in any of our other communities, we not only encourage, but rely on the public to be our eyes and ears when they see or hear something wrong. If they witness anyone in distress or see a dangerous situation, we ask that they call 9-1-1 immediately,” Ysea said.

“If they have non-emergency issues, we ask that they use our Get-it-Done app available on Android and Apple devices, as well as at,” Ysea said. “As part of Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s CleanSD initiative, we now have clean-up crews working 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This has sped up our response time for reports relating to trash and debris.”

Ives has some recommendations for how beach enforcement should be improved. 

“The number one thing is better signage,” Ives said. “I am advocating they enforce the ordinances and put up big signs saying, ‘No drinking, no glass. no styrofoam.’”

Ives also cautioned that Mission Beach is not being patrolled at the right times.

“The police need to start patrolling on the sand from the jetty to north Mission Beach from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m., not 6 a.m.,” she argued. “That is ‘not’ when the action is happening. They should be giving tickets, fines.

Pointing out styrofoam is now banned because it’s not biodegradable, Ives noted the material is winding up in boogie boards nonetheless. “There is no enforcement,” she said. “Stores should have stopped selling those, as well as styrofoam ice chests.”

Concerning plastic straws, which state law is gradually phasing out requiring them to be requested in restaurants, Ives noted, “There are more straws on the beach now than ever.”

Concerning fires, Ives said: “It’s illegal to put them directly in the sand. They need to be in a portable device or in a fire pit. Due to the still-warm fires, I have had to ‘encircle' the fires with bottles or toys.There is nobody to put out the illegal still-burning fires.”

Ives noted the jetty has 10 illegal fire pits strewn with trash. “I can't even tell you how bad Bonita Point is,” she said. “Between the people sleeping in cars, the drunks sleeping on the beach … it is awful.”

Ives added the Mission Beach jetty has become especially troublesome.

“Rats are out in full force at the jetty,” she warned. “You got rid of the cats that killed the rats. Do you know that hepatitis A can be spread this way?”

Worst of all, said Ives: “There is broken glass everywhere – on the beach, in the parking lots, in the picnic areas, on the boardwalk. Another resident in less than a week picked up more than 200 pounds of glass, mainly beer bottles in less than a mile. He has been living here for years and states it is the worst he has ever seen.”

Added Ives: “The trashcans are filled with glass bottles. The tide line is strewn with glass bottles and cigarettes, food wrappers, and clothing. I’ve washed more than 900 beach towels, some from hotels, and blankets left on the beach and donated them, as well as 115 beach toys, all left behind.”

Responding to clean-up complaints from Mission Beach residents, District 2 Councilmember Dr. Jen Campbell said: “Keeping our beaches clean is a prime concern for my office. We’ve been in contact with Environmental Services to ensure that the additional Clean SD money that was approved this year in the city’s budget is focused on our beaches and boardwalks.”

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