Around Town | March 15, 2013 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - March 15, 2013

Around Town

SNUFFED OUT ... Visitors to Palo Alto's small downtown parks might be surprised to learn that there is a smoking problem. But the city has apparently been getting complaints from some residents in the famously health-conscious city about the high level of smoking at small urban parks such as Lytton Plaza and Cogswell Plaza. According to a new report from the city, complaints have focused on "environmental quality, litter, fire safety and a combination thereof." Now, the City Council is considering taking action. On Tuesday night, the council's Policy and Services Committee will consider banning smoking at Lytton Plaza, Cogswell Plaza (both near University Avenue) and Sarah Wallis Park (near California Avenue). This won't be the first time the city considered beefing up the city's smoking rules. In the 1970s and early 1980s, the city imposed smoking bans on theaters, restaurants and workspaces. In 2008, the city's Parks and Recreation Commission considered expanding the ban further, but concluded by a 5-2 vote that the city's laws are strong enough. And two years ago, the council's Policy and Services Committee agreed with a staff recommendation that the city has fallen behind its neighbors when it comes to smoking laws and that it's time to consider other ordinance revisions. Even then, some members were not convinced that smoking is a burning issue in Palo Alto. At that time, Councilman Larry Klein noted that he almost never sees people smoking downtown and called smoking "a problem that has virtually disappeared from Palo Alto."

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