Nevada City to institute six-month pilot for ‘unenforced smoking areas’ |

Nevada City to institute six-month pilot for ‘unenforced smoking areas’

The third try’s the charm.

After two stalled-out attempts to create designated smoking areas in Nevada City’s historic downtown, the city council on Wednesday OK’d a six-month pilot program designating “unenforced smoking areas.”

A three-month pilot project was proposed in 2016 for the Commercial Street parking lot, but that project was never implemented.

City Manager Catrina Olson, with help from the Nevada City Police Department, brought the concept back last fall. But a six-month trial of several designated smoking areas failed to move forward when it was proposed to the council in January.

Police Chief Chad Ellis met with city staff and some of the stakeholders who opposed the project, to come up with a viable plan to address smoking downtown while not condoning smoking.

The city will create non-enforcement smoking areas in parking lots, with receptacles placed in those areas to encourage smokers to stay in that area and to dispose of their cigarette butts instead of littering.

“You can smoke there and you won’t be issued a citation,” Ellis explained. “If we made it designated smoking, the perception is that we are accepting the smoking. (Instead) we’re just acknowledging it exists.”

A two-sided information handout (Healthy Air Nevada City) has been created with a map showing the smoke-free areas in the Historical District and ordinance information. Smoking outside those areas will be cited as an infraction, Ellis said.

“Fire is the big issue, so mitigating that risk is important,” Ellis said. “And the litter problem is pretty significant. If we can taper that back a little bit, and get people to use receptacles, it will be better.”

Resident Jim Morris, who worked with Ellis to develop the new program, said education will be a big component. Ellis said brochures will be available at city hall and in bars, and encouraged community members to pass them out to visitors.

“By having an area where people can go, we’re trying to create an atmosphere where you are entering a smoke-free zone,” said Shannon Glaz, who heads up Nevada County’s tobacco prevention programs. “The hope is that over time, people are not smoking as much.”

Ellis said the program will be instituted as soon as the city can put the receptacles in place at the parking lots on Commercial Street, Spring Street and Nevada Street. He attended a Department of Alcohol Beverage Control training Thursday, calling it a good platform to inform restaurant and bar owners and staff of the pilot project.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4239 or by email at

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