Superintendent bans tobacco in Seattle parks
Seattle Parks Superintendent Timothy Gallagher banned smoking and chewing tobacco in Seattle parks, overruling an advisory board that last week voted against it.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Smoking bans in parks here and elsewhere
In Washington state: Bainbridge Island, Puyallup, Gig Harbor, Lake Stevens, Mason County
Around the country: Los Angeles; San Diego; San Francisco; Oakland; Salt Lake City; Sarasota, Fla.; Honolulu; Des Moines, Iowa; Baton Rouge, La.; Cambridge, Mass.; Portland, Maine
Source: American Non-Smokers' Rights Foundation
Compiled by Seattle Times news researcher Gene Balk
Seattle Parks Superintendent Timothy Gallagher announced a ban on tobacco in Seattle parks Wednesday, overruling an advisory board that last week voted against it.
His ruling put an end to the public debate over whether people should be allowed to smoke and chew in Seattle's parks. In the end, Gallagher wrote in a memo, the ban was a health issue.
The ban aims to protect park users from secondhand smoke and cut down on litter caused by cigarette butts. It was also spurred by concerns that smokers set a poor example for children.
"The negative health effects of tobacco are well documented," Gallagher wrote. "As an agency that has a fundamental mission to support the health and well-being of Seattle residents, it is appropriate and beneficial to prohibit the use of tobacco products at parks and park facilities."
The ban takes effect April 1.
Gallagher's decision is within his authority as parks superintendent, but the Seattle City Council could pass an ordinance to overrule it.
Gallagher was on vacation Wednesday and couldn't be reached for comment.
Mayor Mike McGinn said through a spokesman that he supports Gallagher's move.
Smoking was among activities considered in an effort to list "all the things that can get you kicked out of a park," said Dewey Potter, the department spokeswoman.
The new code of conduct includes prohibitions as varied as drug use and sexual misconduct, disturbing park wildlife and the improper use of park bathrooms. The board briefly considered a ban on spitting but scrapped the idea because public outcry was so immense, Potter said.
Violators of the code of conduct face being banned from parks for 24 hours or a whole year, depending on the offense and how many times they've been caught.
The appointed Board of Park Commissioners voted 3-2 on Feb. 11 to restrict smoking to select areas of parks instead of banning it outright.
"I think that Tim really wanted this [the ban] to happen," Board of Park Commissioners Chairwoman Jackie Ramels said Wednesday.
Ramels voted against the smoking ban. Her thinking, she said, was: "Let's take it in smaller steps. Let's start with the beaches and the playfields and the sports fields, and after a while we can go to the whole park."
Gallagher said in his memo that he was opting for completely smoke-free parks after receiving public support and a recommendation from Public Health — Seattle & King County.
Sally Bagshaw, who heads the Seattle City Council's parks committee, said she thought the park board's solution was "more reasonable."
It's unusual for the superintendent to overrule the advisory panel's recommendation.
The last time in recent memory was in 2004, when the board wanted to exclude the Ballard Bowl skatepark from the design of a new Ballard Civic Center Park. Then-parks Superintendent Kenneth Bounds went against the board's recommendation and left the skatepark standing.
West Seattle Blog contributed to this report. Emily Heffter: 206-464-8246 or firstname.lastname@example.org
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.