Grass Valley City Council hears tobacco presentation, looks to improve safety at parks | TheUnion.com

Grass Valley City Council hears tobacco presentation, looks to improve safety at parks

Health and safety concerns were among the issues brought forward at Tuesday's Grass Valley city council meeting, with council members hearing a presentation on tobacco from local schoolchildren and discussing a more effective ban on troublemakers in parks.

The Nevada County Tobacco Use Prevention Youth Coalition works to create smoke-free areas such as parks, apartments and theaters, smoke-free outdoor events, and to reduce tobacco sales to minors. The coalition also works with local government agencies to pass local policies and ordinances.

Shannon Glaz, Health Education Coordinator & Tobacco Project Director for Nevada County Public Health, and sixth graders from Grass Valley Charter School, made an informative tobacco education presentation in which they discussed how easy it is for youth to buy tobacco products locally.

The council had a first reading of amendments to its parks ordinance that will make it easier for law enforcement to handle issues. According to the staff report, Grass Valley Police officers handled more than 800 calls for service at city parks in 2017. Fighting, public intoxication and illegal drug use were problems cited by Police Chief Alex Gammelgard, who requested more effective tools to control bad behavior and repeat offenders.

The proposed ordinance ramps up bans from local parks with escalating and repeated offenses. A person who commits an infraction of park rules or ordinances would be banned for one day. Someone who commits a non-violent misdemeanor, such as public intoxication, or who commits repeated infractions, can be banned for 30 days. People who had been arrested or cited twice or previously banned for 30 days can then be banned for 90 days, while those who commit three or more non-violent crimes or who were previously banned for 90 days then can be excluded for a period of one year.

Anyone who has been banned from a park for any length of time who enters or remains in a park after being notified of their exclusion can be arrested for trespassing, the ordinance reads.

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The first reading of the ordinance was approved by the council, and will be back for a second reading on June 12, said City Manager Tim Kiser.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at lizk@theunion.com.