Right to light up in parks could get stubbed out
When the Nevada City council debates banning smoking in Calanan and Pioneer parks on Wednesday, it is apt to be controversial.
Markus Richards and his friend, Clint Hammond, said they see too many cigarette butts littering Calanan Park, but argue it’s a littering issue not unique to smokers. Both men said a park smoking ban would be going too far.
“It’s an eyesore,” Richards said of the cigarette butts, but adds that he and Hammond try to clean them up every few days at Calanan Park. And Hammond isn’t even a smoker.
The smoking ban is something most downtown business owners want, said Nevada County health educator Heather Bullis.
Nearly 90 percent of the business owners agreed they wanted smoking banned at Calanan and Pioneer parks in a recent Nevada County public health survey, Bullis said.
“Cigarette butt litter is a huge issue, as are concerns with air pollution,” Bullis said.
But Calanan Park smokers said they feel like they’re being kicked to the curb.
“I don’t know what (banning smoking at the park) is going to accomplish,” said one man who declined to identify himself. “We’re outside,” he said incredulously.
“Everyone is respectful here,” the man said. “Nobody blows smoke in anybody’s face.”
To Jeff Higgins, who was strolling through Calanan Park, the planned ban overreaches.
“It just feels like they’re pushing out the street kids and people the businesses don’t like,” Higgins said. “I like the fact that hoodlums hang out here.”
The ban at Calanan Park would cover the entire property at the corner of Broad Street at Union Street, but city officials could allow smoking in designated spots at the larger Pioneer Park, Bullis said.
The city’s parks and recreation committee informally OK’d the proposal last week and the City Council is expected to hear the plan formally for the first time Wednesday. No formal action is expected at Wednesday’s council meeting.
If the initial park smoking ban is crafted into a city ordinance, Nevada City would join Grass Valley, which already has smoking bans at parks.
In 2005, Grass Valley banned smoking at Elisabeth Daniels and Dow Alexander parks. The city also prohibits smoking at park buildings, playgrounds, Little League baseball fields, swimming pools, the skate park, and tennis courts and 20 feet away from the designated no smoking areas.
To contact Staff Writer Greg Moberly, e-mail gregm@the union.com or call 477-4234.
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