From time to time I ask Leucadian artist Mary Fleener to break down the city meetings she attends,
Smoke Out Encinitas!
The City Council had a single agenda item on Tuesday, Nov 13, 2007 to discuss the belabored issue of smoking and whether or not to ban it city wide, ban it some places, or not to ban it at all. There were about 40 people in attendance, and the first speaker was a city attorney who told us what The Letter of the Law was...things like State Statues, smoking regulations, fines, legal analysis, and how to enforce it. As usual, I never cease to marvel at the eight syllable Orwellian phrases these guys come up with. "Enforcement Methodology" was one, (good name for a Metal band, too).
Speaking of enforcement, some towns such as Calabasas are encouraging The Fink System and hoping citizens will take it upon themselves to report this criminal act. Uh, isn't that a good way to get punched out or something? Just try doing THAT at the Bar Leucadian after midnight.
There were 15 speaker's slips presented to the city clerk and every one supported either a complete city wide ban, or ban on beach, park, and trails. I thought I was neutral on this issue, and I'm an ex-smoker. It's none of my business what someone else does, but damn, the trash issue and pollution of the ocean are reason enough to make cigarettes illegal. Oh yeah, they can kill you too. Anyway, the first speaker said we were the only city south of Camp Pendleton that allowed smoking, the second speaker cited a study from Stanford about the dangers of 2nd hand smoke, North Coastal Youth Coalition kids nervously testified to a beaming Maggie Houlihan, (I know, like, how cute are THEY?), then a couple of guys from Surfrider talked about water pollution and overall it was a very well spoken group. Hell, they should be, it sounds like they've been a broken record for three years now, making the same comments over and over again. That's a ridiculous amount of time for 5 people to make a decision, but I'm used to that with our city policies which are pathologically sluggish.
Jerome Stocks started the council discussion with some joke I didn't get and corrected the first speaker. He told him that, NO, Encinitas is NOT the last town to ban smoking, Carlsbad allows it as well. Oh dear. Then Stocks said he'd received 600 Emails and they all showed "a complete intolerance for 2nd hand smoke". "I'm not sure this is a good way to govern". When was the last time they got that many letters for anything?!? Oh dear, oh dear, Mr. Stocks, this is not going over well, not well at all. Jeeze, you could feel people's temperature rising steadily the more he spoke.
Then Dan Dalager got up and The Hokum Factor got turned up a notch. "I'm a simple person", said he, and "I want to do this as simply as possible". Well, shoot, Danny, we'all reckon that's a garsh durn good idear! Dalager mentioned that there's old Joe Blow at the Senior Center who smokes and since it's his only pleasure in life, he should be able to enjoy his Golden Years jacked up on nicotine if he wants. What worried Dan was, that after a smoking ban, we might be opening the doors to forbid fire rings at the beach, and backyard BBQs. I agree. The smell of cooking meat and sausages are next! Maggie Houlihan spoke at length, then Teresa Barth, spoke briefly, and came to the point without a lot of superfluous sentences. I wish all the council members would do that. Make a decision, and do it quickly so we can all go home! I think it caught everyone by surprise, because that's exactly what happened. Bond make the motion, Jerome seconded it, and after a few more words, the vote was cast-unanimously.
You are now forbidden to smoke cigarettes or cigars or pipes on the beach, any trails, parks and places people congregate, and as Houlihan noted, "...that includes pot, but that's illegal anyway, so you can't do that". Man, I would've said the same thing if I had a Sheriff in the third row glaring at me like she did Tuesday night!!