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Grass Valley Council approves modified smoking ordinance

The Grass Valley City Council on Tuesday approved an ordinance to expand the downtown non-smoking boundaries, and prohibit smoking within 20 feet of all business doors. The ordinance passed on a unanimous vote and also prohibits the use of electric cigarette devices downtown.

“I like that this closes up a lot of the loop holes,” said council member Ben Aguilar. “I’ve had contact with a lot of business owners, and this solves a big problem.”

Grass Valley’s downtown smoking ban went into effect in December 2012, as the ordinance was approved to protect citizens frequenting the downtown area from health hazards associated with smoking in public places.



According to a Grass Valley Police Department report, though, despite the smoking ban, police have seen issues that warranted modifications to the ordinance.

On Tuesday, Grass Valley Sgt. Dan Kimbrough presented to the council recommendations to prohibit smoking near business doors and operable windows, while also expanding the downtown core no-smoking boundaries to include the area of Mill Street from Neal Street to the western entrance of the Safeway shopping center.




Kimbrough also stressed the significant use of e-cigarette devices as an issue for the police department.

“Some of the e-cigarettes and vapor pens are being modified to use illegal narcotics such as methamphetamines,” said Kimbrough. “You could potentially have people walking downtown smoking illegal narcotics, and officers would not know.”

Though approved Tuesday, the city will conduct a second reading of the ordinance at a future meeting; the ordinance would go into effect 30 days from that date.

“I think this is great and I’m in favor of it,” Council member Jan Arbuckle said. “But what are you going to do to regulate this?”

Kimbrough responded saying that since the ordinance’s initial inception, the department has written over 30 citations, and that officers hope to increase the education around smoking in public areas.

The council tabled an initiative Tuesday that would have amended the city’s policy of prohibiting dogs from city-sanctioned special events, such as Thursday Night Market and Cornish Christmas.

The ordinance was continued to September to allow the city to gather more information on liabilities that nonprofit groups may have if dogs were allowed at special events.

Consent items passed Tuesday include the approval of contracts for the Brunswick Road and East Main Street intersection improvement project, and the LOVE Building parking lot project.

The council also authorized a resolution to request Regional Surface Transportation Program funds for construction that would resurface streets and improve intersections throughout the city.

In closed session, council members discussed labor negotiations with the Associated Police Officers, Grass Valley Career Firefighters and general employees unions. The council also held a conference with legal counsel regarding potential litigation.

For more information, go to http://www.cityofgrassvalley.com.

To contact Staff Writer Ivan Natividad, email inatividad@theunion.com or call 530-477-4236.


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