The Turlock Parks, Arts and Recreation Commission (PARC) will meet Wednesday, Nov. 12, to consider reaffirming a 2003 Turlock City Council resolution banning tobacco use in Turlock parks and parking lots with recommendations for updates and enforcement.
The recommendation, as scheduled, includes updating the ban to include new technologies such as vapor and electronic cigarettes in all public parks, facilities and adjacent public parking lots.
Ken Fitzgerald of the Stanislaus County Office of Education Smoke-Free Parks initiative gave a presentation in January 2013 to the Parks and Recreation Commission, as it was previously named. At the time, the Commission voted in conceptual support of a smoking ban in parks, however, no ordinance was approved.
Concern was raised again at the Aug. 13 PARC meeting by Girl Scout Troop 3289 of Turlock wishing to impose a ban. At the Sept. 10 meeting, Fitzgerald attended in support, along with the Girl Scouts who again raised the issue, giving a presentation on why a tobacco ban should be enacted.
At the Oct. 8 PARC meeting, when a vote was originally anticipated, the Commission heard a staff update on the issue from Turlock Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Supervisor Erik Schulze who revealed an ordinance banning smoking already existed.
It was determined that a no-smoking ordinance in City parks from 2003, Resolution 2003-08, was approved by the then-City Council with a series of other rules and regulations for the Turlock Regional Sports Complex.
The ban, in Section 8 of the ordinance, states, “The sale or consumption of alcoholic beverages and the use of tobacco of any kind is prohibited on any portion of City of Turlock parks including the Sports Complex facility and parking lot areas.”
No signs were ever posted indicating the ban, other than those at the Sports Complex; additionally, the ban has never been enforced.
Proponents of the ban have noted health concerns due to secondhand smoke as being a primary motivation behind why smoking, in any form, should be banned in City parks; some community members have stated opposition, viewing it as infringement on personal freedom.
A vote to reaffirm the ban will serve as a recommendation to City Council on the ordinance that, on the books, technically stands as enforceable according to the City Attorney. They are asking the Council to update and reaffirm, or repeal the 2003 ban.
The recommendation to reaffirm is based warnings including that of the U.S. Surgeon General stating there is no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure, California Air Resources Board stating that smoke is classified as toxic air contaminant, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s statement that adult behavior influences children’s choices. Staff notes that approximately 7,300 cigarette butts have been picked up and counted in Turlock parks.
PARC is also expected to hear the following at Wednesday’s meeting:
- A staff update on the Sports and Recreation Facilities Prioritization and Feasibility Study
- An arts update
- A Commission update to City Council
- A motion to cancel the Dec. 10 PARC meeting
PARC will meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Yosemite Room of Turlock City Hall, 156 S. Broadway.