Tuesday, June 25, 2019     Volume: 20, Issue: 16

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on October 10th, 2018, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 19, Issue 32 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 19, Issue 32

Solvang shores up smoking ordinance

By Spencer Cole

City administrators and council members tried to clear the air permanently in Solvang by tightening its smoking regulations. 

On Oct. 9, the Solvang City Council gave tacit approval to restrict smoking to streets and parking lots. The public's response was largely positive. 

"It will be nice to not walk through a cloud of smoke or scuff up cigarette butts while walking downtown," one Solvang resident told council members that night. 

Dawn Dunn with Santa Barbara County Public Health told the council that her department could provide up to $2,500 for window decals and metal signs to help inform the public of the slight changes. She said that while the language in the current ordinance limiting smoking was good, there could be some wiggle room for would-be offenders. 

"The way you have this written, in your non-commercial areas, everywhere except in the main business corridor would also allow for smoking," she explained. 

Solvang already restricted smoking to specific areas throughout town, but concerns about recreational and medicinal cannabis users potentially finding a loophole forced the issue back into the local spotlight. On Aug. 28, the city opted to amend a piece of its code and smoking regulations to limit places where cannabis smokers can light up. 

At the time, Mayor Jim Richardson advised removing the word "enclosed" from city code under the section prohibiting smoking in public places. He said the move would give the city more latitude in keeping open public use of cannabis to a minimum. 

"We in the city would be able to cite people that do smoke cannabis in public places where we prohibit it," he added. "If it's state law we have to obey, then our code enforcement officer cannot cite them. It would have to be a sheriff or some other police force rather than our own." 

California's Health and Safety code currently does not permit anyone to consume cannabis in public, except in a few lines under state business code, which provides a pathway for local governments to allow the plant's use in public. 

"I think the mayor's point is this is a state level regulation and if someone was going to be cited for smoking in a public place, we don't have a local ordinance that does that," City Attorney Dave Fleishman said. 

The process to shore up the regulations took roughly a month, but on Oct. 9 the council appeared in favor of the move and received staff recommendations without comment. 

No action was taken at the meeting. The council is expected to approve the changes when it next convenes.

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