As those of you who read The Voice regularly already know, I was fiercely opposed to the ban before it went into effect, but those on the Council who voted in favor of the ban can now claim "success".
Since the ban, business is down noticeably for the affected bars and restaurants, the number of smoking related complaints is up, the amount of cigarette related litter on the streets of the affected areas is up 10000%, and the first busy night after the ban took effect(Thursday, May 18th), over 200 people were involved in a melee that took every on duty officer in Mountain View, plus units from 3 MORE CITIES to get under control!!!
These problems did not exist before the Council voted for this ban and I warned them about each and every one of these issues beforehand! So they can't say they didn't know.
The problems cannot be laid at the feet of the smokers because the council promised new "cigarette friendly" trash cans. Where are they? I haven't seen them yet. You may not have noticed the increase in trash because the owners of the businesses have instructed their employees to clean up the parking lots which are CITY PROPERTY! This is ridiculous because the city created this problem and it is their responsibility to hire people to clean the parking lots.
What happens if one of the employees is injured while they are outside cleaning city property? Can they sue the business? Can they sue the city? Who pays their medical expenses? Will the insurance company refuse to pay? These are all questions that should have been considered beforehand, but the city refused to take adequate time to study the issue because they "knew" they were doing the "right" thing!
Also, you cannot expect to control hundreds of people that have been drinking, some for many hours, without at least some type of security in place. For years, the bars have done a superb job with this because people were on private property in the patio areas and any trouble could be quickly dealt with. Now, these people are on City property and the city has not seen fit to spend the money to assign officers to sit in the parking lots from 6pm to 2am on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday to monitor the situation.
The supposed objective of the ban was to reduce people's exposure to second-hand smoke in "dining areas", but it has had the exact opposite effect! When I am standing outside the 25ft buffer, I frequently see people with children walking within 5 to 10ft of me and the other smokers! Before, they would not have been exposed because the patio area segregated the smokers from the public. Also, most of the affected businesses are BARS not DINING AREAS! The only way to get food there was if you brought it with you, ordered it from restaurant and had it delivered to the bar, or ordered the food inside and brought it out to the patio. Perhaps the designation of the bars as dining areas was to give the illusion that people were smoking where people ate. This is NOT TRUE, unless you counted the smokers that regularly brought in food to eat there.
I spoke to the City Council on Tuesday night and strongly urged them to repeal this ridiculous ban, but I have little hope they will do so. It can be very difficult for people to admit they made a mistake.
They city was very fortunate that no one died in the melee on the night of the 18th! The Voice reported that one person tried to grab an officer's taser. What would have happened if he had succeeded? What would have happened if someone had grabbed an officer's gun? For a short time, MVPD was badly outnumbered and the results could have been extremely tragic!
People have not stopped smoking because of the ban and as I stated in numerous previous articles, it has created many problems that did not exist before. The job of the city council is to solve problems, not create them. I strongly recommend that people write to the City Council and ask them to restore the status quo. All this chaos was caused because of ONE COMPLAINT in THREE YEARS! Really? We can do better!
Old Mountain View