Arlington considering outdoor smoking ban

ARLINGTON — A proposal to ban smoking, electronic cigarettes and chewing tobacco at city parks and trails is set to go before the Arlington City Council on Monday.

If approved, the ordinance would take effect by the end of the month.

City officials have talked off and on about a smoking ban for more than six years, assistant city administrator* Kristin Banfield said. The proposed ordinance is modeled after a regulation in Marysville, though Arlington’s has been expanded to include trails as well as parks, and electronic cigarettes as well as tobacco products.

People caught smoking or chewing tobacco in a park or on a trail could be fined up to $1,000 or get a maximum of 90 days in jail, according to the proposed ordinance.

The council is scheduled to vote during the meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. Monday in the council chambers, 110 E. 3rd St. The agenda includes a public comment time for people to address the council.

At least five other Snohomish County cities have banned smoking in parks: Marysville, Lake Stevens, Bothell, Sultan and Lynnwood.

Marilyn Oertle, who has lived in Arlington since 1974 and served on the City Council since 2000, said the motivation behind the smoking ban is two-fold. First, she believes it would improve air quality for park and trail users, including children. It’s a health concern for the community, she said.

“I think I have the right to breathe clean air,” she said. “I should be able to go to the park and not breathe smoke and step on cigarette butts.”

The second benefit of the ban is public safety, Oertle said. Arlington faces a problem with homeless people sleeping, smoking and using drugs in parks and on trails. The ordinance would give police the authority to question and detain people who are loitering in parks. Hopefully, homeless people can then be connected with social services, she said.

“I truly don’t know what the answer is,” Oertle said. “But it isn’t acceptable to have them sleeping in our parks. People are telling me they don’t feel safe.”

She expects enforcement to be the biggest challenge if the council approves the ordinance.

“It’s always difficult when you pass an ordinance the restricts people from doing something,” she said.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439, kbray@heraldnet.com

* Correction, Aug. 18, 2014: This article originally used an incorrect job title for Kristin Banfield.

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