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Imperial Beach Welcomes Redbox and Vending Machines - Finally

New regulations approved by City Council will allow certain vending machines to operate within the city, including the iconic DVD kiosk Redbox.

There are 27,800 locations nationwide and over 300 in San Diego County. The Albertsons a few blocks outside Imperial Beach has one, and the Naval Exchange has had one for two years, but IB has been without the famous kiosk – until now.

Redbox can finally come to town.

After a unanimous City Council vote at their meeting last month, certain vending machines will now be allowed to operate in local storefronts. In addition to the iconic DVD-dispensing kiosk, ice, water and other movie vending machines will be permitted as well.  

A popular addition in front of supermarkets and convenience stores, one business owner says it's "better late than never."

“It’s definitely good for our business,” said 7-Eleven franchise owner Harjinder Singh. “Some 7-Eleven stores are making $300 to $400 dollars in extra revenue. I’ve even seen people waiting in a Redbox line.”

Redbox, a company that rents DVDs and video games, gives a percentage of its earnings to stores that host the machines. They also pay sales tax to cities where they operate. And in San Diego County, that’s a lot of cities.

According to analysis by IB Patch, out of 18 incorporated cities, only Imperial Beach and Solana Beach do not have Redboxes.  

Singh runs a 7-Eleven on Palm Avenue near Carolina Street. He said his customers have been asking for a Redbox since Hollywood Video said goodbye to IB years ago.

“After they get their movie, they can come into our stores and buy sodas, popcorn and candy. It’s a win-win for everyone,” he said. “It’s going to increase revenue for branch stores and the city.”

Video 4 You on 13th Street declined to comment about how vending machines that allow people to rent movies and video games could potentially impact their business.

Roger and Dottie Sandoval have owned 7-Eleven stores in Imperial Beach for 38 years. A store they own in San Diego has had a Redbox for more than a year. In May they appeared before the City Council to ask for the right to have the machines in IB.

"[Last year] the 7-Eleven corporate people came out with the Redbox people and measured, and we knew right where it was going to be, and then all of a sudden it was determined it wasn't something the city wouldn't authorize," Dottie said.

"Let's get some of that money back in our community," Roger said at a May 18 meeting to discuss outdoor sales ordinances. Businesses and the City of San Diego were making money off movie and video game vending machines.

"I can't see any reason why we should allow this to continue to happen," he said.

The Sandovals and Singh are not sure when they will begin offering DVD vending machines, but both said they are currently speaking to Redbox.

Previously, businesses were required to conduct all business indoors unless a special permit was sought. This was intended to “improve the appearance of the city, to safeguard and enhance property values, and to promote and protect the public health, safety and welfare” of Imperial Beach, according to the regulation.

But vending machines fell into a unique gray area. Many council members expressed support for certain services like water dispensaries, a particularly well-trafficked kiosk type that has operated without the ordinance. At the May meeting a Glacier Water spokesman said almost 400 Imperial Beach consumers visited their vending machine locations daily.

After alteration, specific vending machine types are now classified as a business or use that normally conducts part of their business outside the building. This designation will not apply to Seacoast Drive where vending machines will still be prohibited.

“The best way to go may be a prohibition of those types of uses on Seacoast Drive given the type of atmosphere we’re trying to promote [in that area],” Mayor Jim Janney said.  

Certain requirements must be met to utilize the new vending machine regulation, which can be read in its entirety under agenda item 5.2 in the attached PDF.

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