No more smoking in parks

first_imgGina Gooding, a representative of Simi Valley Girls Softball, told the parks board Thursday about a 9-year-old asthmatic boy who was watching a game when a man lit up a cigarette next to him. When he asked the man to stop smoking, the child got a lecture about showing more respect to adults, and he had to get up and move to get away from the smoke, Gooding said. “There is nothing more annoying and discouraging than to have a parent in a lawn chair light up a cigarette next to children,” she said. Gooding said a ban would not only protect children and help avoid conflicts, but help prevent fires that might start around parks due to cigarette smoking. When another speaker said he couldn’t recall a fire started by a cigarette in a park, another woman in the audience said, “How about Griffith Park?” referring to the Los Angeles fire earlier this month. Investigators are looking into whether that fire was started accidentally by a smoker. “If we are going to (ban smoking), it should be in every park,” said district board member Gene Hostetler, a police detective who said “No Smoking” signs would provide a useful tool for law enforcement. He and other board members said illegal smoking in the parks should be an infraction rather than a misdemeanor. “I don’t want to put anybody in jail because of smoking,” board President Kate O’Brien said. Violators could be fined $100 for the first offense and $250 for subsequent violations. But board members expressed hope it wouldn’t come to that. “We’re not trying to cite anyone. We’re just trying to get them to be courteous to others,” said Doug Gale, the district’s recreation administrator. Several people at Thursday’s meeting spoke against the ban, including Doug Schwartz of Simi Valley, who said he didn’t smoke himself. “There is a bigger issue at hand, and that is people’s rights,” said Schwartz, who also expressed concern about using police time to enforce smoking rules. Besides speaking at the meeting, Schwartz sent an e-mail to the district. “I could understand if the proposal was just in the sports areas, but a general ban in the entire park seems ludicrous,” Schwartz wrote. “What would be next, no barbecuing(?) Barbecues omit tons of smoke and if inhaled can be hazardous to one’s health. … Why does this lunacy continue?” District officials said the ban was based on health concerns about secondhand smoke, which the California Air Resources Board has classified as a toxic air contaminant. Simi Valley would follow a trend in other California communities that have banned smoking at parks and other outdoor areas where people regularly congregate. California state law already bans smoking in parks near children’s play areas, but the Simi Valley park district had been receiving complaints from youth sports groups about people smoking near dugouts and in the bleachers. Gooding and other adult youth-league leaders said the players and spectators felt trapped and uncomfortable confronting the smokers. The Simi Valley Historical Society also requested that Strathearn Historical Park be included in the ban, except by permit when requested for private social gatherings. Letters and e-mails to the district from Simi Youth Baseball, Simi Valley Girls Softball and Santa Susana Boys Baseball expressed support for the ban at their facilities. [email protected] (805) 583-7602160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SIMI VALLEY – No more lighting up while watching your kid’s Little League game – or while hanging out at any local park, for that matter. After a contentious meeting Thursday night, the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District’s board voted unanimously to ask the district staff to put up “No Smoking” signs in all the district’s Simi Valley-area parks, not just the large regional parks and those used by youth groups, as originally proposed. The ban, which takes effect as soon as the signs go up, doesn’t include golf courses. The district is considering expanding the ban to Oak Park facilities, which it oversees. Residents there will have a chance to weigh in at future meetings before a decision is made. last_img

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