Thursday, March 19, 2015

Light up and Move along

Posted By on Thu, Mar 19, 2015 at 2:22 PM

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Arcata updated its public loitering smoking ordinance last night, but don’t get too attached to the new rules — the now city-wide public ban is likely to evolve again in the coming months.

Residents along the border of the current prohibition area (I Street, in particular, at Eighth and Ninth streets) have complained that the previous ban drove herds of loitering layabouts to the sidewalks and streets of their neighborhood, bringing with them smoking, drinking, trash, general rude behavior and occasionally more serious problems, like fights. (See the Journal’s previous coverage here.)

In an effort to combat the unintended gatherings brought about by the ban, the city council voted last night to enact a city-wide ban of smoking on public streets and sidewalks. That is, unless, you’re walking.

Per the ordinance (emphasis ours):

Smoking shall be prohibited on any public street, sidewalk, parking lot or any other property owned or leased by the City, or in which the City holds a right of way easement, and which is open to members of the general public, except while actively passing through on the way to another destination.
That passing through clause doesn't apply to the plaza area (including the sidewalks in front of bars and shops opposite the plaza) or the bus station, where smoking remains outright criminal.

But! The council suggested this was a stop-gap measure to address the mingling concerns of J Street neighborhood residents (it will go into effect in 29 days), and have asked city staff, including the police chief, to research designated smoking areas and “time of use restrictions” — meaning looser prohibitions at night. The council will discuss those options next month.
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Grant Scott-Goforth

Bio:
Grant Scott-Goforth has been an assistant editor and staff writer for The Journal since 2013.

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