The City Council is set to consider new regulations in city parks that include banning smoking and could require permits for “any games” played in the city’s 73 parks.
The smoking law would forbid smoking within 100 feet of parks and beaches and also ban the disposal of tobacco products. Groups could apply for smoking permits for their activities.
The law would also require trainers and instructors using parks for commercial classes to get permits. In rewriting that portion of the municipal code, city staff changed the wording about who needs a permit to use the parks in a way that some City Council members have said could have unintended consequences.
Organized leagues need permits now, but the new law would require permits for “any group sporting activity… any games… or other sport related events.”
City spokeswoman Tara Finnigan said the city had no intention of requiring permits for pickup games.
“Things that could move a group into permit-required territory would be if fees were charged to the participants (they pay into a club or to someone that organizes the game(s)), they play on an ongoing basis, referees are used, etc,” she wrote in an email, citing Recreation & Senior Services Director Laura Detweiler.
The law came up for council consideration last July, but was sent back for revision after council members Keith Curry and Leslie Daigle raised questions about unintended consequences.
Curry said then that he could be cited if he played ball with his daughter on a field that others pay fees to use, or that it could prevent a Bible study group from having a picnic on the beach.
Daigle took issue with requiring instructors who only have a few clients and provide individual lessons to register with the city, since two residents could have the same effect.
Under the proposed law, permits would be required “for repetitive athletic league, team or group sporting activity, including any games, practices, clinics, or other sport related events.” Detweiler said the key word was “repetitive.”
“So in the example of a pickup basketball game that occurs on a regular basis,” she wrote in an email, “it would not apply as we do not issue permits for basketball courts. They are on a first-come, first-served basis. On the flip side, a pickup soccer game that occurs every Saturday at 9 a.m. on one of our soccer fields would apply as we issue permits for these facilities due to them being in high demand, the wear and tear it takes on a field, and scheduling conflict that occur as a result.”
In other action, the council will vote on plans to remodel the Newport Beach Country Club. The club has plans to tear down 17 tennis courts, build a 27-room hotel and five homes, and expand its clubhouse from 35,000 to 56,000 square feet.
The council is also scheduled to approve the hiring of a consultant on city trash collection.
At a study session in the afternoon, the council will consider adopting findings by Cal Fire that parts of Corona del Mar should be designated a Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone. The finding would require landscaping restrictions and inspections for more than 5,000 homes, Corona del Mar Today reported. Currently, officials inspect around 270 homes on alternating years.