At Thursday’s Gainesville City Commission meeting, the Board of Commissioners unanimously decided to proceed with the decision to draft an ordinance that prohibited smoking in all city parks.
District 4 City Commissioner Adrian Hayes-Santos articulated that a smoke-free park policy would promote one’s personal rights, advocating for healthy public spaces.
“I believe in personal rights,” Hayes-Santos said. “They should be necessary until they run into someone else’s personal rights.”
Hayes-Santos went on to say that a person smoking in a public park would be infringing on another person’s personal right to clean air.
Despite the decision being unanimous, there was much discussion revolving around the idea of a fine for disobeying the proposed ordinance, as well as how much a fine would be.
During a city commissioner meeting in April, it was recommended that smoking at a city park would result in a $75 fine, which is consistent with the adopted fines for smoking at the Rosa Parks RTS Downtown Station and in bus shelters.
However, during this meeting, none of the city commissioners supported a $75 dollar fine, saying that it was too high of a cost.
While Hayes-Santos supports the passing of the ordinance, District 2 City Commissioner Todd Chase said there shouldn’t be a fine at all and that citizens should take actions if they see a person not following the law.
“If you come upon someone blowing smoke in your five-year-old’s face,” he said. “You’re going to have to figure it out on your toes there, a little bit.”
Commissioner Pro Tempore Helen Warren felt that a $75 fine was too high of a consequence for smoking in a public park.
“I’m not happy with the $75 fine,” she said. “There are a lot of ways that we can get compliance without going to $75 per fine.”
It was eventually agreed that the fine for this ordinance should be $25.
Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe said that the city would be more likely to get a payment for a $25 fine than a $75 fine.
Poe, who stated that he was a past smoker, said that a $25 fine would result in him paying and thinking about that the next time he got fined.
“If it was $75,” he said. “I would get angry and want to wage a little war.”