Visitors to parks in Grover Beach may no longer be able to light up, if a tentative City Council decision is affirmed.
The council unanimously voted last week to ban smoking at all city parks, including in off-street parking areas and nearby sidewalks, as well as the bus transit area running along the southern side of Ramona Garden Park.
The council will take a final vote on the new rules in August. If approved, they will take effect 30 days later.
City officials say significant staff time is spent cleaning cigarette butts from picnic areas, sidewalks and sports facilities. They also hope the new regulations will reduce underage smoking in parks and prevent people from smoking during events such as the summer concert series at Ramona Garden Park.
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Police responded to 10 reports of juveniles smoking in city parks or facilities from August 2009 through August 2011, the most recent numbers available, police Chief Jim Copsey said.
Officers can issue an administrative citation to anyone violating the ordinance, which carries a $100 fine for the first offense. For the second and third offenses within a year, the fines increase to $200 and $300, respectively.
Nearly all other cities in the county ban smoking in public areas, including parks, beaches, piers, sporting fields, multiuse trails and other open spaces.
Morro Bay was the most recent city to limit smoking outdoors, but the City Council there stopped short of approving a comprehensive ordinance that would have targeted all public places where someone could be exposed to secondhand smoke.
Last week, the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to outlaw smoking at mini-parks and neighborhood parks in unincorporated communities, in parking lots near county buildings and at other sites.
The issue of smoking in public places has been raised at several Grover Beach council meetings dating back more than a year. Last July, the city’s Parks, Recreation and Beautification Commission recommended that the council restrict smoking within 20 feet of city parks and city-sponsored events.
Staff initially recommended that the bus transit area be exempt from the ban to provide an area for bus drivers or passengers to smoke, but the council ultimately nixed that idea.
City staff estimates it will cost from $6,600 to $9,600 to install 22 to 32 no-smoking signs at parks.