Redwood City Public Park Smoking Restrictions sign now

To the City of Redwood City,
On 10-02-2007 at approximately 4:00 pm, I took my family (wife and two boys, both under 2 years old) to Palm park, near the YMCA in Redwood City. Upon our arrival at the park I observed 3 different groups of people smoking cigarettes in different locations within the park. Although they were not sitting on the playground equipment, the smell of cigarette smoke was permeating the entire park. This disturbed my wife and I as we are concerned about the future health of our children. We believed that Redwood City would share in our concern for our childrens health.
My wife called the phone number posted on the rules and regulations sign at the entrance to the park. She spoke with the Superintendent of the Parks and Recreation Department who told her that, there was nothing he could do about the people smoking in the park, so long as they were 25 feet away from the play structure area.
Upon returning to my home, I researched Redwood Citys municipal codes. I found the following:
Sec. 25.2.02. PROHIBITED ACTS:

L. Smoke within twenty feet (20') of main entrances, exits, and operable windows of any park facility, restroom or within twenty-five feet (25') of a Playground, Tot Lot or Recreational Area;

At first glance I thought that the superintendent was correct, but I then looked futher at the definitions provided for the same municipal code section, I found the following:
Sec. 25.1.02. DEFINITIONS:
PARK, PARKS, PARK BUILDINGS OR RECREATIONAL AREA: Means all grounds, roadways, avenues, parks, playgrounds, buildings and public areas under City jurisdiction used for park and recreation purposes.

Section 25.2.02. L, clearly states that smoking is prohibited 25 feet from any playground, tot lot or recreational area. Section 25.1.02. clearly defines a recreational area functionally as parks. Which does indicates that the entire park is considered a recreational area. The definition further states that public areas under City jurisdiction used for park and recreation purposes, are also considered recreational areas. It is clear that the intent of the written municipal code is to prevent anyone from smoking within 25 feet of any park.

Upon looking further at the municipal codes, I found the following:

Sec. 15.1. FINDINGS AND PURPOSE:
The Council of Redwood City hereby finds that:


G. Accordingly, the Council finds and declares that the purposes of this Chapter are to:
1. Protect the public health and welfare by prohibiting smoking in public places, except in designated smoking areas, and by regulating smoking in places of employment; and
2. Strike a reasonable balance between the needs of smokers and the need of nonsmokers to breathe smoke-free air and to recognize that, where these needs conflict, the need to breathe smoke-free air shall have priority. (Ord. No. 1969, 1, 6-20-1988)

The need to breathe smoke-free air in the public parks of Redwood City is essential to the future health of our children. It is embarrassing to have a family picnic at a public park in Redwood City and have people walking over from the local businesses to take a smoke break at the park. I find this to not be in keeping with the standards that the Council of Redwood City has set forth in section 15.1. of the municipal code.

If this is not how you interpret the municipal code, and you feel that further law would need to be written in order for this to be an enforceable offense, then I propose this become an issue to be raised for the future of Redwood City. That smoking be restricted in all public parks and other open air recreational areas.


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Heidi WuBy:
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Redwood City, City Council

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