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Smoking ban looms at Auburn School Park Preserve

Council votes to draft ordinance restricting it in park
By: Jon Schultz, Journal Staff Writer
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Councilman Mike Holmes said year after year, the American Lung Association grades Auburn an “F” for not taking steps to encourage the reduction of smoking in the parks and city.

On Monday, he introduced a recommendation that he said would send a statement about the city’s stance on smoking, and with a 4-1 vote, the City Council approved development of an ordinance to ban smoking in the Auburn School Park Preserve.

Home to Arts in the Park and the Auburn Symphony, it’s also become a “Mecca” for youth who smoke and eat lunch in the park, Holmes said in his recommendation.

“There have been some community members who are concerned about pot smoking and various other things,” said Holmes, a “reformed smoker” and board member of the Placer County Air Pollution Control District. “So it does tend to collect a lot of trash and cigarettes and so forth, particularly from youth coming from the high school.”

City staff and the city attorney will now work to craft an ordinance on the recommendation that will be brought back in front of the council at a later meeting.

After taking a stroll through the park earlier Monday, Mayor Kevin Hanley said he couldn’t find a single cigarette butt littered there.

Hanley voted against it, saying a better solution would be to add trash receptacles near places where people eat or sit down on their smoke break.

“The problem is really manageable,” he said. “The park bench pretty close to Taco Tree doesn’t have a trash receptacle there, so the slobs that use that park bench don’t walk 20 feet to get to the next receptacle near the entrance to the amphitheater.”

Hanley said if the council is going to enact such an ordinance, the city must be willing to enforce it, which means more police work, and, in his opinion, it wouldn’t be the best use of officers’ time.

He said accusations about marijuana use in the park, which is next to the Auburn Police Department, are simply allegations until evidence is presented.

Councilman Dr. Bill Kirby is chairman of the Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital tumor board and said Monday alone it had nine cases – six smoking related.

Kirby said he wants smoking banned from all public areas in the city, and he told Hanley he would like a smoking ban in Central Square to be brought before council in the future.

“It is beyond a public health hazard. Obesity is probably the only one right now that is worse,” he said. “Smoking related cancers are destructive. Secondary smoke is not a joke, and this is extremely serious and at some point we need to make a decision, and that needs to be in our public areas we will no longer tolerate something that affects all people around the person.

“They are victimizing everybody within 20 feet and we need not to tolerate it.”

Councilman Keith Nesbitt said in addition to banning smoking from the Auburn School Park Preserve, he would like to evaluate prohibiting it in transit bus stops.

“A lot of those people have mobility problems,” Nesbitt said. “They can’t escape that second-hand smoke, so I think that would be a good spot to look at in future.”

 

Jon Schultz can be reached at jons@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @Jon_AJNews