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Grass Valley council to discuss smoking ordinance

Map of Grass Valley no smoking boundaries.
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The Grass Valley City Council will meet at 7 p.m. today to vote on an ordinance that would expand the downtown non-smoking boundaries, and prohibit smoking within 20 feet of all business doors. The ordinance also prohibits the use of electric cigarette devices downtown.

“I think there is some confusion between law enforcement and people as to what’s the reason behind banning smoking downtown,” Mayor Jason Fouyer said. “The e-cigarettes kind of cause some confusion, so I think it’s a matter of getting that straight and creating clarity.”

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 may warrant slight modifications in the ordinance, including the consistent use of e-cigarettes and vapor pens in the downtown corridor.

City documents state that a California Department of Public Health report claims e-cigarettes “contain nicotine and other harmful chemicals” that are as addictive as the nicotine in regular cigarettes.




The police department also recommends that the downtown core no-smoking boundaries be expanded to include a smoking ban on the area of Mill Street from Neal Street to the western entrance of the Safeway shopping center.

Tuesday’s ordinance also aims to prohibit smoking within 20 feet of all business doors and operable windows that are open to the public, including private property in the downtown area.

“If you go down on Mill Street, you’ll see many businesses that have alcoves or stairways that go off onto the sidewalks before you actually enter the business,” Grass Valley Police Lt. Alex Gammelgard said. “Those areas under the current ordinance would technically not be part of the no-smoking footprint. But this proposed ordinance would include those kind of areas.”

If approved today, the city would schedule a second reading of the ordinance at a future meeting; the ordinance would go into effect 30 days from that date.

The council will also consider an optional first reading of an initiative that would amend the city’s policy of prohibiting dogs from city-sanctioned special events, such as Thursday Night Market and Cornish Christmas.

“This day and age, dogs are part of people’s families,” Fouyer said. “They want to be able to take them wherever they go. So is this an appropriate place for them to bring their dogs or is it not an appropriate place? We currently don’t allow it, so I’m curious to see what people have to say about it.”

Consent items scheduled to pass today 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 will also look to authorize 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 will discuss labor negotiations with the Associated Police Officers, Grass Valley Career Firefighters and general employees unions. The council will also hold 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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