Eugene's parks go smoke-free on June 1.

Eugene’s parks go smoke-free on June 1, but city will be soft on enforcement for three months

ORIGINAL ARTICLE HERE from The Register-Guard

Eugene’s city-owned parks and natural areas will go smoke-free starting ­Wednesday.

But violators will receive the white-glove treatment for the first three months of the smoking ban.

June 1 kicks off the three-month “education period” ­before officials begin enforcing the smoking ban with ­citations.

The education effort will include new park signs, ­fliers and a Web page. The two park ambassadors, temporary employees who help visitors, will spread the word during the summer.

Eugene joins other cities in Lane County that have snuffed out tobacco use at their parks. The cities of Cottage Grove and Veneta, and the Willamalane Park and Recreation District, which serves Springfield, imposed smoking bans last year. A smoking ban at all state-owned parks in Oregon took effect in January 2015.

The ban will include the Park Blocks in downtown.

The proposed smoking ban that the city put out for public comment in February had exempted the square.

Councilor Greg Evans said at the time that city officials didn’t want to ban smoking at the Park Blocks ­— a popular hangout for smokers — ahead of an ongoing discussion of a possible broad downtown outdoor smoking ban, which would include establishing designated areas for smokers.

Mayor Kitty Piercy and many residents disagreed, saying the park-smoking ban should cover the Park Blocks, which technically are city parks.

Public Works Director Kurt Corey signed off on the final rules last month.

Public comment prompted officials to think better of other rules they proposed initially for city parks.

The proposed ban on flying drones and model aircraft at city parks ­because of privacy and safety concerns? Gone, for the time being.

Residents noted, among numerous arguments, that regulation of airspace is the job of the Federal Aviation Administration, not the city; that there can be no expectation of privacy in public places; and that there have been no accidents tied to the use of drones in city parks.

City staff members plan to meet with user groups to discuss the issue.

Under the new rules, bicyclists no longer will be able to use three wood-chip trails in two city parks — Pre’s Trail at Alton Baker Park and the adidas and Rexius trails at Amazon Park — and won’t be able to receive special permission to do so.

The initial parks regulations revamp has suggesting allowing bicycle use on the trails if city gave the go-ahead. The ­final rules bar the city from doing that.

Barring bicycles from using the trails grew out of safety and maintenance concerns. Runners complained that they were passed by bicyclists traveling at high speed, and the volunteer groups that maintain the trails complained that two-wheeled traffic was ­degrading the trails.

On the smoking ban, advocates say such bans at parks promote healthy outdoor recreation, reinforce to children that most Oregonians don’t smoke, reduce exposure to second­hand smoke, protect wildlife and the environment from cigarette butts, and save money through less maintenance and lower fire risk.

Kelly Darnell, spokeswoman for the city’s parks and open space division, said public compliance with parks smoking bans in other cities has been good.

“We expect that in Eugene that also will be the case,” she said.

City workers and police officers can order a person who violates park rules to leave the park or open space and issue a notice barring them from the premises.

If they refuse to leave or violate a notice, they can be issued a citation or arrested. Violators can be fined up to $500, be ­sentenced to up to 30 days in jail, or both.


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