Naples beaches, parks still smoker-friendly
By JENNA BUZZACCO
April 2, 2008
Get used to it.
The smoke from cigarettes being lit in some areas of Naples won’t be disappearing any time soon.
Naples City Council on Wednesday rejected an ordinance that would have banned smoking at all city-owned beaches and parks — four beach access points and about 30 parks throughout the city.
The ban also would have included the city’s pier and dock. The vote to turn down the ban was 4-3.
Mayor Bill Barnett, Councilman John Sorey and Councilwoman Penny Taylor voted in favor of the ban.
“I’m disappointed,” Barnett said after the meeting. “There was no sense on Monday these objections would appear. This was about maintaining the future.”
Council on Monday saw a significant change in the interpretation of the original proposal. While council members had initially hoped to ban smoking on all of the beaches in the city, City Attorney Bob Pritt on Monday told council members they couldn’t do it because the land doesn’t technically belong to the city.
A Florida law recently was interpreted to say the upland owner — such as a condominium association or the owner of a beachfront home — owns the dry sand and the state owns the wet beach. In the same memo, Pritt said the dry sandy beach is subject to use by the public but it is not considered a city park.
Councilman Bill Willkomm, who was against the proposal from the beginning, said Wednesday the ban was inappropriate.
“This is political correctness at its worst, and I hope we don’t move forward with this resolution,” Willkomm said. “If this ordinance is going to pass, the next logical option is to outlaw picnic lunches. I did not take my stupid pill today, so I am not going to support this.”
Several council members voiced similar feelings regarding enforcement, saying it would be hard to catch people in the act of disposing of their butts.
“This is a trash issue,” said Councilwoman Dee Sulick. “It’s trash in general, and I have received so many telephone calls and e-mails from people about what they do to clean up the beach.”
Councilman Gary Price, who in the past supported the proposal, said he was concerned about the amount of beach the ban would affect.
“It makes it so people can’t smoke at Lowdermilk Park, but walk one foot down and you smoke on the beach,” Sulick said.
Price said the move would have forced smokers to smoke in front of private residences.
Barnett brought the issue up in December, during the height of campaign season, and said banning smoking would help the city become a green city. Barnett said on Wednesday this would be the last time residents would hear from him about a smoking ban.
“I’m not bringing it back,” he said. “It was a fair compromise. It was fair to smokers and fair to non-smokers.”
Naples makes second-hand effort to ban smoking at beaches, parks
December 5, 2007
By JENNA BUZZACCO contact
Naples beaches and parks aren’t one giant ashtray.
That’s the point Naples Mayor Bill Barnett hoped to convey Wednesday.
Barnett asked Naples City Council on Wednesday to allow city staff to look into whether the city could prohibit smoking on public beaches and in city parks.
The City Council came to a 6-1 consensus that allows City Attorney Bob Pritt to look into the feasibility of the request. Councilman Bill MacIlvaine was against the idea.
Barnett said he has spoken to several organizations in the city, including the American Cancer Society, and all of them have endorsed his efforts.
“I’ve been working on this for a long time,” Barnett said. “It’s time now. I don’t want this to drag on.”
But Wednesday’s request wasn’t the first time a city committee or the council talked about stomping out smoking in public places.
In early 2002, the city’s Community Services Advisory Board spearheaded a movement that would ban smoking in the city’s parks. When the issue came before council that March, council learned the city already had the authority to ban smoking in parks.
The ordinance had been on the books since 1957, and was only discovered when Pritt began to research the question, according to a March 2002 news report in the Daily News.
More than five years later, Barnett said previous attempts to ban smoking won’t hinder his efforts.
“I knew about it, but (council) never passed it,” he said. “That was in 2002, and it got bogged down. This is 2007. We’re very cognizant of the environment. This is a priority.”
Barnett didn’t serve on council during the last smoke-free debate.
While Barnett said he’s making the banning of smoking a priority, some council member’s weren’t as enthusiastic Wednesday. Many said it was too early to determine whether the city should institute, and enforce, the ban.
“Let’s explore this,” Councilwoman Penny Taylor said. “I know that it’s no fun as a nonsmoker to put your hand in the sand and come out with cigarette butts.”
Councilman Bill Willkomm said he didn’t think the city needed to go as far as banning smoking to fix the butt problem. Willkomm said stricter littering laws could decrease the number of cigarette butts scattered across the beach.
Willkomm said his choice to support city research into a ban does not mean he is in favor of banning smoking.
“I’m in favor of looking in to this, but I’m not about to stifle (people),” he said.
Councilman John Sorey said he planned to do whatever is necessary to put a ban in place.
“I’m adamantly opposed to smoking,” Sorey said.
Pritt said the state of Florida already bans indoor smoking in public places. And while Pritt said he believed the city had the authority to ban smoking at the beaches, he said Wednesday he needed more time to research the subject.
When the issued came up in 2002, Pritt said local governments do have the right to regulate smoking outdoors, but cautioned the community service board from overregulating.
Pritt said Wednesday he knew other communities have explored, or are in the process of, banning smoking in outdoor, public venues.
City Council will discuss the issue further at an upcoming meeting. A date was not set.