Herald American

Downey council bans use of electronic cigarettes in city parks

DOWNEY — Just like regular cigarettes, electronic cigarettes would be banned in city parks except for designated areas under an ordinance to be reviewed at a future date.

The City Council May 23 pulled the item off its consent agenda at the request of Mayor Fernando Vasquez, who asked for a revision.

That revision leaves the park ban but removes the prohibition of use in public places as stated in the original law, a city spokesperson said.

Pamela J. Passow, director of parks, recreation and community services, in a report to the council May 23, noted that an ordinance approved Nov. 22, 2011, banned smoking cigarettes in parks, except in designated areas, and during city events.

The prohibition of electronic cigarettes would coincide with the previous one on tobacco products, Passow said.

Elecronic cigarettes are hollow battery-powered containers in the shape of a cylinder which emit a vapor when used instead of more harmful tobacco smoke, supporters say, adding they are helpful to those wishing to quit smoking regular cigarettes.

But Passow notes that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, since August 2016, has been regulating the devices and the surgeon general has warned that the electronic cigarettes contain nicotine and other harmful substances which are unsafe to users as well as those nearby who breath in the fumes.

The Downey law will conform with federal laws, which prohibit anyone under age 18 from buying electronic cigarettes or using them in a park or other public place, Passow said.

She noted that the Downey law on tobacco and the electronic devices will not conflict with Proposition 64, approved by state voters last November legalizing the recreational use of marijuana by adults over the age of 21.

Downey currently prohibits medical marijuana operations and can also ban recreational marijuana businesses under Proposition 64, but it can’t prevent the possession and use of marijuana by residents in their homes or cultivation of a small amount there.

Proposition 64 prohibits the use or sale of marijuana to anyone under 18 and also disallows it in public places, which includes parks, public buildings, streets, restaurants or common areas, so it would not conflict with the Downey ordinance, Passow said.

Downey will continue to enforce laws against the use of tobacco products, electronic cigarettes and marijuana, she added.

In other action May 23, the council took action on plans for new homes.

The council approved a tract map for six condominiums at 9303 Elm Vista Drive to allow construction to get under way on affordable homes for six families to be selected by Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit agency based in Lakewood.

The agency sells homes at low cost on the open market. They are less expensive as construction includes donations of materials and labor including those families selected to purchase the dwelling.

The council also approved the rezoning, from single family to multiple family units, of a site at 10361 Foster Road, allowing the planned construction of 14 condominiums on the 104,960 square foot lot.

In addition, Councilman Alex Saab noted that a ground breaking took place the past week on a $14 million project to build 39 townhomes on a site at Telegraph Road.