If you like to take a smoke break in Pasco’s downtown Peanuts Park, your days may be numbered.
City council members are considering a ban on smoking and tobacco use in the small urban park, which includes the Pasco Farmers Market area.
The park also extends to the north across West Lewis Street with a rectangular strip of land between businesses.
The move comes one year after the council adopted an ordinance prohibiting smoking within 25 feet of all park picnic shelters, playgrounds, water playgrounds and swimming pools.
This would be the first full ban on a Pasco park.
Rick Terway, Pasco’s administrative and community services director, told the council Monday night that city staff are proposing this change because of the concrete park’s confined space and its particular use.
Produce and food vendors set up open-air booths for the market Wednesday and Friday mornings, along with the successful Food Truck Friday event. Many patrons shy away from the area because smoking makes it uncomfortable for them, Terway said.
“I think that in today’s society, smoking is more frowned upon,” he said. “It needs to be a ban that we enforce on a continuing basis.”
It would be hard for the city to enforce a partial ban with certain days, he added.
Terway encouraged council members to consider this ordinance because it would fit in with the pending redevelopment of Peanuts Park and the downtown reorganization, and would promote a better use of public space.
Park staff spends many hours cleaning up the dozens of cigarette butts that have been dropped on the ground near benches, around planters and on walkways.
“Putting this ban in effect would really make this a cleaner, safer, healthier place to recreate,” Terway told the council. “(The ban would) make it an easier place to come and enjoy without that smoke or tobacco use in the area.”
Councilman Bob Hoffmann questioned if it is a reasonably enforceable provision.
Terway said it is because of the “smallness of the area.” Signs would be placed throughout the park.
Councilmen Al Yenney and Saul Martinez said they would be in favor of the ban.
“I support it to keep a family atmosphere and to keep an environment where it is amenable to families and to the majority of the community,” Martinez said.
Mayor Matt Watkins asked if nearby business owners have been informed of the proposed ordinance.
Terway said there have been conversations with some owners who want the mess gone, but no specific notice for input.
City Manager Dave Zabell suggested they work with the Downtown Pasco Development Authority to help notify adjacent property owners of the potential action.
Martinez said he thinks it is a good idea to reach out to park neighbors for input, but added, “I can’t imagine for the life of me that anybody would be opposed to this.”
The ordinance will be on the Aug. 3 agenda for a vote at the regular meeting.