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Smoking ban passes 4-1

Leece dissents on first vote to snuff out cigarettes at every park in the city. Formal approval still required.

November 02, 2011|By Joseph Serna

COSTA MESA — The City Council gave preliminary approval this week to an ordinance that would ban smoking at all city parks.

Going along with a Parks and Recreation Commission recommendation, the council in a 4-1 vote Tuesday night approved the first reading of an ordinance that prohibits smoking within 50 feet of Costa Mesa's parks, the city's three athletic fields, two community gardens and Balearic Community Center's children's area.

Councilwoman Wendy Leece dissented, saying it was unclear how the law could evict someone from the park and because the law doesn't prohibit chewing tobacco, an exception Councilman Steve Mensinger requested.

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It will be up to police and park rangers to enforce the ordinance, which carries a $100 fine for a first offense, $200 for a second, and $500 for each subsequent citation in a 12-month period.

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Outsourcing proposal

The council also continued with the proposed outsourcing of city services, approving 4 to 1 to put two graphics services, city fleet maintenance and emergency dispatch jobs out for bidding.

Leece dissented on each bid, as she has done with every one since they started coming before the council in September.

She maintains that negotiating with city employees, instead of putting their jobs out for bid, is how the city should address the pension costs, which are projected to rise in the next few years. City employees, for their part, have fought the effort in court.

A lawsuit filed in May got an early victory for the employees when the judge issued an injunction against Costa Mesa, prohibiting the city from replacing employees with privatized workers until the suit is resolved.

The injunction doesn't stop the city from allowing private companies to submit bids. The city just can't use them for the time being. A trial date in the lawsuit is scheduled for April.

In other action, the council delayed voting on Villa Venetia's request to build a 44-foot tall community center. City code limits structures at the Costa Mesa apartment complex to 27 feet. The council is expected to pick the matter up at its Dec. 6 meeting.

joseph.serna@latimes.com

Twitter: @JosephSerna

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