Tobacco ban proposed in Baker City parks

By Terri Harber April 22, 2013 09:43 am

By Terri Harber

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Baker City Councilors have been asked to prohibit use of tobacco in parks and other outdoor areas owned or controlled by the city.

They will discuss the subject during their meeting on Tuesday at City Hall, 1655 First St. The session begins at 7 p.m. but the matter is scheduled near the end of the meeting.

The councilors aren’t being asked to approve the proposed ordinance, No. 3322, during this meeting. They could decide whether it merits action, however.

A resident asked the councilors to consider a smoking ban during a recent council meeting.

Officials from the Baker County Health Department also approached the city and asked that it consider designating locations used for “exercise, health and enjoyment” as tobacco-free, said City Manager Mike Kee.

Parks, playgrounds, athletic fields, biking paths and walking trails are sites of special concern. 

The ordinance would increase accessibility of such facilities to “all community members, including those with chronic health conditions, limit second-hand smoke exposure,” Kee wrote in his report to the council.

He also explained that a ban would reduce the number of cigarette butts and other tobacco debris in public areas.

The Quail Ridge Golf Course would be excluded from a tobacco ban.

Older teens, specifically 11th-graders, and adults, in Baker County are more likely to smoke than those of the same ages statewide, the Oregon Health Authority reported in 2011.

It found that 23 percent  of the county’s 11th-graders smoked versus 16 percent of 11th-graders across Oregon. And 20 percent of Baker County adults were smokers versus 17 percent statewide.

And the local percentages of smokeless tobacco use, when compared to Oregon as a whole, also are significantly higher — especially among males in the 11th grade. The state found 37 percent of these teens in Baker County used snuff or chewing tobacco while only 14 percent use it statewide.

Sidewalk Utility Fee

Councilors could decide whether to renew the Sidewalk Utility Fee, which is scheduled to expire June 30. 

Adopting Ordinance No. 3318 as currently written would continue collection of monthly payments from residents of $1 and businesses of $2. 

The program has a large surplus of money, $80,000 as of June 2012, that hasn’t been allocated to property owners for sidewalk repair or replacement.  

The councilors also could stop collecting money until the surplus is awarded.

Also on the agenda:

• Approve Fee Resolution No. 3694, which affects prices for such services as ambulance transports and kennel licenses.

• Accept possible second reading of Ordinance No. 3319, the franchise agreement between the city and LightSpeed Networks Inc., The city would receive 7 percent of the LightSpeed’s local gross revenue. The company is installing fiber optic cable in Baker City to provide improved 4G internet to some of the local cell towers, and offering broadband business access.

• Accept possible first reading of Ordinance No. 3320, which would establish a fund to help pay for neighborhood public projects.

• Hear the Aquifer Storage and Recovery Well Use Report. This is required under a state permit that allows the city to inject mountain water into a city well from Nov. 1 to July 15.