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January 28, 2015

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Proposed code takes aim at smoking, bathing in Las Vegas parks


Steve Marcus

A view of the Huntridge Circle Park on Maryland Parkway south of Charleston Boulevard Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012. Signs at the park say that it is only open Friday through Sunday and holidays. The city shut down the park in 2006 because of safety issues involving the homeless but it was reopened in 2011. STEVE MARCUS

Bob Coffin

Bob Coffin

Bob Beers

Bob Beers

Smoking in Las Vegas city parks soon may be illegal.

A new parks code introduced Wednesday also would prohibit the use of city park water features – not including those connected to a swimming pool – for bathing, showering or washing clothes.

If adopted, the code would replace one that is decades old, said Councilman Bob Coffin, who admitted he hadn’t yet read the entire draft. He cautioned, though, that the draft code “is only preliminary” and could change significantly before gaining approval of the City Council.

Councilman Bob Beers said most of the proposals also seemed to merely codify policies already adopted by the city. That said, he added, he did not agree with the proposed ban on smoking in city parks.

“I could see banning smoking in the teeter-totter section of a park where kids are playing; I could see banning it on artificial turf, but I know I would not be able to support the blanket criminalization of tobacco usage,” Beers added.

At the city Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee meeting Tuesday, Kelly Schwarz, a parks employees, spoke about the proposed code. She said some council members who had been briefed had “very few questions” about it.

“No-smoking stayed in,” she added, referring to the proposed smoking ban.

A city spokesman said the Advisory Committee recommended the smoking ban after being asked by a group of young people who organize park cleanups and regularly find discarded cigarette butts.

Other activities banned in the proposed code include:

• Camping or lodging, except when it is permitted for city-sponsored activities or by recognized “nonprofit youth development” organizations. “Camping” includes “laying down on bedding for the purpose of sleeping”; using a tent or shelter to sleep in; or sleeping in a vehicle.

• Hitting golf balls, except where permitted.

• Glass drink containers.

• Remote-controlled planes or boats.

• Firearms or any weapons, unless permitted by the state or in connection with an event.

• Fireworks.

• Music “that is audible from a distance of 50 feet.”

• Other noise disturbances defined in the city’s Health and Safety code. One of those disturbances includes,“yelling, shouting, hooting, whistling or singing on the public streets.”

• Digging or staking, unless approved in connection with the use of tents, bounce houses or hot-air balloons.

The code also requires a permit for demonstrations, picnics or celebrations of 75 or more.

Some events will require organizers to purchase insurance beforehand. In those cases, the new code asks for general liability insurance of at least $1 million per occurrence and $2 million aggregate; alcohol liability insurance would be the same; and vehicle liability insurance (when an applicant’s vehicle is used for an event) would be $1 million.

Both Beers and Coffin said they had questions about those insurance amounts.

The proposed restrictions on using water features for bathing or washing clothes bring to mind an incident from November 2006, when two homeless men fought at downtown Las Vegas’ Huntridge Circle Park. The fight grew out of anger over some broken sprinkler heads; one man stabbed another to death; the killer received five to 12 years in prison for voluntary manslaughter.

Three years before that fight, the park’s award-winning redesign included water features for play on broiling summer days. By the time the stabbing had taken place, the park’s water play area had long since become a makeshift laundry for the homeless who used the showers and sprinklers to clean themselves and their clothes.

Coffin said parts of the draft code “give city marshals some tools to use when dealing with a lot of different issues.”

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  1. I thought this was Nevada, not California.

  2. So now they want to make Las Vegas into more of California or New York than they already have.
    These are probably being billed as "for the betterment of everyone". Ban smoking outside? In a park that is supposed to be for everyone? You can't lie down on a blanket and sleep? You can't sleep in your car? If your at the park having a picnic or some other outing people will sleep on blankets or in their car to rest up. These people are abusing their powers. Big Brother is going to ruin us yet.

  3. i can understand designated smoking areas, but blanket non-smoking is stupid. And these insurance requirements? Is the city going to provide a resource for people to get this insurance?

  4. 30% of the people in our Great City are from California. They moved here because they no longer wanted to live under California rule so we do so many try to make us like California?

    All you have to do is watch the news to see that California is not working.

    They really need to think before voting on these laws. This is not the way to do things.

  5. Eventually there will be so many laws that we will all be criminals.

  6. VegasNative, please produce ONE death certificate that states cause of death: secondhand smoke.

    Facts do not seem to matter to anti-smoking zealots.

    Secondhand smoke may not be healthy but it does not kill. Lets ban the sun, it causes skin cancer.

  7. I loved the Penn & Teller show (whose name I can't use here) that debunked many of the stories surrounding second hand smoke. Not that P&T are recognized experts, but if they saw fit to cover this, then you have to take notice. They do their homework.

  8. I'm willing to bet that many of those who are scared of second hand smoke are also concerned about dihydrogenmonoxide as well, or at least would be if they knew the dangers it poses.

    See for all the details on it.

  9. For secondhand smoke facts, watch this Penn & Teller show which includes the governments own scientific results.

  10. Lets be honest....these laws are mostly geared toward kicking homeless people out of public areas that they often loiter. So now that this part of the population has one less place to go, where will they go? Maybe they'll start harassing and doing more weird things around sacred Zappos employees.

    Dear LV, get a grip. Face the fact that your homeless population needs help to be rehabilitated back in to working parts of the community. Not kicked out and banned from parks.

  11. So in the Council's logic is to ban smoking in parks because,"a group of young people who organize park cleanups and regularly find discarded cigarette butts." Seems like those discarded cigarette butts are the result of illegal littering. Why don't they enforce that law, or do they think that cops will have a better chance catching someone smoke than catching them litter?

    For full disclosure, I find smoking a vile habit that those of weak will engage in, but I find America's freedoms always trump my disgust with other's behavior.

    But nothing shows the lack of rational thought on display here more than the reason behind the water feature restrictions-- an incident seven years ago where "when two homeless men fought at downtown Las Vegas' Huntridge Circle Park. The fight grew out of anger over some broken sprinkler heads; one man stabbed another to death.."

    First off, good to see the city reacting so promptly.

    Second "broken sprinkler heads" aren't water features. Why not make it illegal for city workers to not maintain the sprinklers, since that's what the fight was about. And I'm pretty sure we have laws against stabbing each other to death and that didn't prevent this tragedy, but somehow they think someone who would kill would have respect for this law

    Crazy. They've all gone crazy.

  12. Smokers have the habit of throwing their butts down when finished with the understanding that someone else will pick them up. These butt piles accumulate around benches and under trees and cost thousands to clean up.

    Personal freedoms are definitely limited: no one has the right to kill themselves at the expense of others. That's what it's all about.

  13. I lived in California (if one dares call that "living") for three years.

    Believe me, our council is on the way to the same thing. What's next? Perhaps, no toys in a "Kiddy Meal" because they cause children to get fat?

  14. Since there is no practical way of enforcing the proposal, why bother? We don't need more government interference. If someone, anyone, is reduced to washing clothes in a park, let them. Stop wasting our time and money proposing, discussing, and legislating things that further hamper us.

  15. @David Lopez..."I'm sure we can all agree that salubrity, no more cigarette butts, and better air is something we can all live with."

    Of course we can. And I'm sure we can all agree that ignorance, empty rhetoric and dishonesty from our governance officials is something we can all live without.

    There is already laws against tossing cigarette butts and banning smoking in a park will have no affect on our air. You really want better air, ban automobiles, but that wouldn't go over, and you are okay with poising the air as long as its done in a politically acceptable way.

    Thanks for spending all those city resources to accomplish nothing, it's what we've come to expect from people like you, those inspired by people who think banning big gulps will solve all of society's ills.