Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

By Doyle Perry

For the Baker City Herald

An ordinance banning smoking in Baker City's parks has been revived more than six months after it was first proposed, and this time it appears the restriction will take effect.

The City Council voted 5-2 Tuesday night to approve the first reading of the ordinance.

It prohibits smoking in city parks, on the Leo Adler Memorial Parkway, and within five feet of the Parkway.

The smoking ban does not apply to the city-owned Quail Ridge Golf Course.

Councilors first considered the smoking ban in April.

The Council approved the first reading of the ordinance on July 9, and the second reading on July 23.

But the third and final reading, which would have put the smoking ban into effect, failed by a 3-3 vote on Aug. 13.

(Please see detailed results of previous votes on the ordinance at the bottom of this story).

Councilor Kim Mosier, who is a staunch supporter of the smoking ban, was absent during that meeting.

All seven councilors were present Tuesday, though.

Dennis Dorrah and Roger Coles voted against the smoking ban.

Prior to the vote, Torie Andrews of the Baker County Health Department urged councilors to approve the smoking ban.

"Children have a right to be healthy and to avoid the dangers of tobacco," Andrews said. "It's a matter of changing our social norm. Children see and associate with it (smoking).

"Baker County is the least healthy county in Oregon. This is the first step. This is a community decision; it changes the trajectory of Baker County health. This sets a standard for the entire city. We can help get the word out on the smoking ordinance. The Health Department has funds for signage."

The smoking ban will not take effect until councilors have approved the second and third readings.

That could happen in January, although the Council can't approve both the second and third readings during the same meetings.

The Council has two meetings scheduled for January, on the 14th and the 28th.

Dangerous dog ordinance

The tragic death in September of 5-year-old Jordan Ryan, who was mauled by a pit bull in Baker City, prompted a request for an ordinance that would regulate ownership of dangerous dogs in the city.

A 10-person committee investigated such ordinances from other cities and drafted one for the Baker City Council to consider. Baker City Police Chief Wyn Lohner headed the committee.

The 14-page ordinance is designed to designate dangerous and vicious dogs, along with placing restrictions and requirements on owning those dogs.

Lohner said the committee had input from councilors - Coles and Mosier were committee members - and from county commissioners. He said pet owner safeguards and human factor management of animals were major contributors in building the ordinance.

Councilors unanimously approved the first two readings of a version of the ordinance that Coles suggested.

The ordinance is "breed-neutral" - it doesn't single out pit bulls or any other breed as inherently dangerous and thus subject to the ordinance's requirements, which include measures an owner must take to ensure the dog is confined.

Coles said this morning he believes a breed-specific ordinance would discriminate against responsible owners of those breeds, and potentially result in a "legal nightmare" for the city.

"We just want to see people be responsible owners," Coles said.

The ordinance also calls for the City Council to appoint a hearings officer to decide whether a dog qualifies as dangerous.

The basic idea, Coles said, is that a police officer who deals with a possibly dangerous dog would write a report for the Council.

The Council then would ask a hearings officer to review both the police report, and any evidence the dog owner submits, before deciding whether the dog is subject to the ordinance.

Kee said he used a similar system in Ontario, where he was police chief for more than a decade.

He said Lohner will compile a list of skills and experience that the city would prefer in hearings officers. Ultimately the Council would choose the officer or, possibly, officers who would hear cases.

Mosier said she has concerns about how the city communicates with the public over the ordinance.

Lohner said an education plan is in place, and that New Hope for Eastern Oregon Animals, a dog-rescue group headed by Dick Haines, was to play a big part in this education.

Carol Delsman of Baker City, who is an executive with the American Kennel Club, called the ordinance "a wonderful step in the right direction."

She also pointed out that someone who knowingly places a dog that has bitten a person with an owner is liable for that action. She does not believe that problem was addressed in the ordinance. Delsman offered her help and the assistance of the American Kennel Club with information online that could provide education on the issue.

Water treatment update

The Council voted unanimously to authorize staff to continue to pursue the temporary UV treatment option.

Public Works Director Michelle Owen said the city could buy a Calgon Carbon Sentinel UV System for $130,200, or a rental system would be available for up to $30,000 per month.

The Calgon system would "treat all the water we would need," Owen said, but the city would have to pay $28,426 to have OTEC install three-phase power at the treatment plan.

City officials hope to have a permanent UV treatment plant operating by the end of 2014.

In other business Tuesday the Council:

andbull; authorized Fire Chief Jim Price to offer a 2003 Wheeled Coach Medic Unit to a local rural fire department by need or by lottery at his discretion.

Also Price was given authority to offer to a local first responder a 1998 Holmatro Hydraulic Rescue Tool Set including a spreader, cutter, ram and power unit.

andbull; appointed incumbents John Echeverria and Chuck Peterson, along with Glen Ferguson, to the city golf board.

andbull; maintained their position on not allowing councilors to attend meetings via Skype or other electronic means.

Prior to ending the meeting, councilors had a brief discussion on the Economic Improvement District progress downtown. There will be a public hearing on the proposed renewal of the district on Jan. 14.

Tuesday's meeting started on a harmonious note as Baker High School's Bel Canto Choir serenaded the Council and those attending the meeting with Christmas songs.

Jayson Jacoby of the Baker City Herald contributed to this story.


Tuesday's 5-2 vote on the first reading of an ordinance banning smoking in Baker City parks was the fourth time the City Council has voted on the matter. Mayor Richard Langrell and Councilors Kim Mosier, Barbara Johnson, Mike Downing and Clair Button voted in favor. Councilors Dennis Dorrah and Roger Coles were opposed.

Here's the ordinance's voting history:

andbull; JULY 9: First reading passed 5-1: Langrell, Button, Mosier, Johnson, Downing, yes; Coles, no

andbull; JULY 23: Second reading passed 4-2: Langrell, Button, Mosier, Downing, yes; Coles and Dorrah, no

andbull; AUG. 13: Third and final reading failed 3-3: Langrell, Button, Downing, yes; Johnson, Dorrah, Coles, no