Santa Paula Times

Tot Lot Law: City Council wants smoking banned in playground areas

July 30, 2003
Santa Paula City Council

It didn’t take long for the City Council to ask that a law be adopted locally to ban smoking in park children playground areas.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesIt didn’t take long for the City Council to ask that a law be adopted locally to ban smoking in park children playground areas.Santa Paula Police Chief Bob Gonzales told the council at the July 21st meeting that his research showed that adoption of a local Tot Lot Law will mostly be a matter of how far away smokers can be from sandlots and play areas.The council had requested a look at the law after a presentation last month by Isbell Middle School students, participants in an anti-smoking program overseen by El Concilio Del Condado De Ventura.Accompanied by Christina Flores of El Concilio, the program coordinator, Isbell Middle School students Ricardo Bautista, Jose Estevez, Diana Ursua, Heleodoro Bautista, Geardo Viramontes, Josephine Martinez and Maria Viramontes told the council at the June 16th meeting about the Tot Lot Law, which bans smoking near playgrounds.Interpretation of the law can decide the ban, which would prohibit smoking and discarding smoking related materials, said Chief Gonzales at the recent meeting.
The state law also “protects against retaliation for reporting,” violations and can impose fines.Problems of enforcement can occur due to a lack of police officers, noted Chief Gonzales. “You must have officers but the law will be a tool if adopted.”“It sounds like an issue of 25 feet to 50 feet,” said City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz.The law is written for 25 feet, said Chief Gonzales, and implementing the law would require posting of same, including the possibility of a fine for violations; state law mandates a $250 fine.Councilman Rick Cook, who had asked in June that the possibility of the city adopting a Tot Lot Law, noted that a local ordinance should include Harding Park Little League fields and Veterans Memorial Park, among others.The Isbell Middle School students have been picking up cigarette butts from playground areas as cigarette chemicals can harm small children if they chew on the butts or ingest one into their lungs. Students noted at the June meeting that even across the street from City Hall - at Veterans Memorial Park - they found hundreds of cigarette butts in the sandbox and the surrounding area.