PORTLAND — Three Portland city councilors want to ban smoking in all city-owned parks and public spaces.

Edward Suslovic, Cheryl Leeman and Jill Duson, who sit on the Public Safety, Health and Human Services Committee, voted Tuesday night to recommend adoption of the smoking ban to the City Council. Councilor John Coyne was unable to attend the meeting.

The full council, which consists of eight councilors and Mayor Michael Brennan, will address the issue at some future date, a meeting that will likely give the public another chance for input. No one spoke against the ban at Tuesday’s committee meeting.

Douglas Gardner, director of the city’s Health and Human Services Department, said making parks and public grounds smoke-free will protect residents and visitors from exposure to secondhand smoke — classified as a carcinogen by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

“This is not a radical departure from what we already have,” said Suslovic, who chairs the public safety committee. “It represents an incremental effort toward phasing out secondhand smoke.”

Gardner said the city’s current ordinance, which was adopted in 2008, bans smoking within 20 feet of playgrounds, beaches and outdoor athletic facilities.

He said the existing smoking ban does apply to the city-owned Riverside Golf Course, but “that said, it has not been enforced.”

“I would hope that the city enforces (the golf course smoking ban),” said Mark Riley of Olympia Street. “It’s a public facility where there should be no smoking.”

The proposal would ban smoking in 30 city parks and public spaces, all of which require a permit to hold a public function.

Among the better-known locations are the Eastern Promenade, Deering Oaks, Lincoln Park, Fort Allen Park, Monument Square, Longfellow Square, Dougherty Field and Payson Park.

Arthur Fink, who lives on Peaks Island, supports the smoking ban but wants the city to take the measure a step further.

“There is a gaping hole in what has been proposed,” said Fink. He said Casco Bay Ferry Lines has refused to prohibit smoking in its passenger terminal.

“I have to walk through a cloud of smoke every time I take the ferry,” he said.

Councilor Duson said she agrees with Fink and that the city will investigate what can be done to prohibit smoking at the terminal – the gateway to several island communities in Casco Bay.

In other business, the committee could not agree on proposed rules that would regulate street artists, such as people who perform or who sell creative products such as paintings or photos. The proposed regulations will be discussed at the committee’s Feb. 12 meeting.

The rules, developed by a panel of citizens, would require all street artists to register with the city at no cost.

In addition to registration, the city would ban artists from using Bell Buoy Park near where cruise ship passengers disembark.

The city also wants to prohibit artists from using sidewalks that are less than 8 feet wide and prevent them from operating within 10 feet of retail or non-food-related establishments.

Leeman said she has some reservations about the proposal.

“To me it’s part of the fun and excitement for cruise ship passengers,” she said, referring to Bell Buoy Park. “If you apply all these rules, it doesn’t leave a lot of places for artists to perform.”

Several street artists spoke against the proposed rules, which city officials say were designed to balance artists’ rights with those of business owners.

“These rules would make it impossible for street artists to set up in Portland,” said Abbeth Russell, a Portland artist. “For a city that has an area designated as the arts district, this seems contradictory. We should be supporting artists. This would kill the vibrancy and excitement of Portland.”

 

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:
dhoey@pressherald.com