Council undecided on no-smoking law in parks

  • Written by Don Mann
The burning question at last week’s Woodinville City Council meeting was whether or not to ban smoking in the city’s public parks by law.

The issue came to light as King County, in its ongoing anti-tobacco campaign, announced it would provide no-smoking signage available to the city at no cost.

It’s kind of a use-it-or-lose-it thing, based on a federal stimulus grant trickled down from on high.

The council majority is opposed to smoking in the parks, but has yet to determine whether to make the prohibition mandatory or voluntary.

It decided by unanimous vote to direct city staff to pursue twoalternatives: to develop guidelines for a voluntary No Tobacco Use program in city parks, or to draft an ordinance which prohibits tobacco use in parks by law — meaning Woodinville police would start issuing citations for smokers in city parks, most notably Rotary Park, otherwise known as the skateboard park.

The council has until September to decide which path it will take.

In February, at council’s request, Woodinville’s Parks and Recreation Commission reviewed information presented by the county as well as city staff data and recommended council not adopt a policy prohibiting tobacco use in parks, largely due to the cost and difficulty of enforcement.

The commission determined it a non-issue.

According to Assistant to the City Manager Alexandra Sheeks, the cities of Burien, Covington, Seattle, Snoqualmie and Vashon have adopted mandatory no-smoking policies in public parks.

Currently in Woodinville, only the sports field adjacent to city hall is a designated outdoor tobacco-free area, because of potential damage to its synthetic turf.

Later the council approved by 5-2 vote Resolution No. 414, supporting the expansion of King County’s Urban Growth Boundaries which would pave the way for the city’s annexation of two small county areas: one near the southwest corner of NE 171st Street and 140th Ave. NE, and one on the north side of the tourist district.

According to Sheeks, King County executive staff did not recommend adjusting the UGB, having received 36 comments in opposition.

A Woodinville survey of property owners, however, were in favor of the adjustment, she said.

Councilmember Liz Aspen was quick to express support of the resolution. “It’s clear we have the consensus of the property owners wanting to be annexed into the city,” she said.

Mayor Bernie Talmas and Councilmember Susan Boundy-Sanders voted against it.

“The basis for the resolution is flawed,” Talmas said, citing the costs of providing for infrastructure — sewer and road improvements among others — in the rural locations. “If King County doesn’t have the resources to take care of these areas, we don’t either.”

Earlier the council filled four vacancies on its planning commission, appointing David Ormerand, Geoff Webb, Kathy Heywood and Al Taylor.

All were elected by unanimous council vote except Taylor, who gained Position No. 6 despite nay votes from council members Scott Hageman, Les Rubstello and Aspen.

Nine citizens applied for the positions.

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