COSTA MESA Smoking in Costa Mesa parks may be extinguished under an ordinance introduced by the City Council.
The Council voted 4 to 1 Tuesday night to move forward with a ban on smoking cigarettes in public parks, which would apply to the city’s three athletic fields, two community gardens and within 50 feet of all 29 public parks.
The ban will not extend to chewing tobacco, as requested by Councilman Steve Mensinger. Councilwoman Wendy Leece opposed the ordinance.
In response to community feedback, the Parks and Recreation Commission recommended in May that the council prohibit smoking both to protect public health and reduce litter.
The commission’s initial recommendation only included the athletic fields, community gardens and the public parks with children’s playgrounds and tot lots.
Under the proposed ordinance, however, all 29 city parks and the Balearic Community Center tot lot area would prohibit smoking for consistency and ease of enforcement, according to a city staff report.
The 50-foot radius does not apply to private property or the public right of way but only if the smoker is in transit to a destination.
Violations would be considered disorderly conduct, with a $100 fine after the first violation, $200 after the second and $500 thereafter within a 12-month period, the report states.
If the ban were enacted, the city would spend about $2,500 to post “no smoking” signs in the parks.
Two residents spoke on the proposal.
Costa Mesa resident and non-smoker Beth Refakes told the council that the 50-foot restrictions could force smokers out of the park and in front of homes, subjecting those residents to second-hand smoke. She also said she would rather see police fighting crime instead of enforcing a smoking ban.
Perry Valantine of Costa Mesa and a non-smoker asked the council how the prohibition would affect the homeless, who often smoke in the city’s parks.
Irvine, Laguna Hills and Fountain Valley all have smoking bans at their athletic fields and some parks. Long Beach, Newport Beach and Huntington Beach prohibit smoking on city beaches.
The Costa Mesa council will vote again on the ordinance after a public hearing at the Nov. 15 council meeting.