OCEANSIDE — Come Sept. 23 it will be unlawful to smoke within the Pier View Way Underpass to the beach.
City Council unanimously voted to ban smoking in the underpass and within 25 feet of it on Aug. 24.
Following the meeting police Chief Frank McCoy said signs will soon be posted to alert visitors and residents to the new rules.
McCoy added police warnings that smoking will be illegal in 30 days will begin immediately.
“The biggest benefit is for those people who are nonsmokers, they won’t have to walk through a big cloud of smoke and breathe secondhand smoke,” McCoy said.
The regulation was passed to prevent secondhand smoke dangers, and stop smokers from loitering in the underpass walkway.
Dangers of secondhand smoke include increased risk of lung cancer, heart disease and respiratory tract infections.
McCoy said the sheltered underpass causes cigarette smoke to linger, which adds to health risks.
“The underpass is not meant for people to congregate, it’s a transportation route for people to get under the tracks,” McCoy said.
McCoy said the city is also looking into additional measures to keep people moving through the underpass. He said piping in music has been discussed by city staff, as well as the installation of security cameras in the area.
McCoy said follow-up measures are expected in the near future.
“We’re doing everything we can as a city for those visiting and living here to have the most enjoyable time as possible,” McCoy said. “We have a beautiful downtown and beaches, and love to show them off.”
Oceanside prohibits smoking in its parks, beaches, Civic Center, pier plaza area and outdoor patios of bars and restaurants.
Additional no-smoking regulations were initiated for the underpass due to residents’ complaints and police observations of loitering.
Enforcement will address loiterers, which often include panhandlers and homeless individuals.
Aug. 10 city staff reports, which introduced the no-smoking regulations, said the allowance of smoking encourages camping, littering and human waste in the walkway.
At that meeting council members shared concerns on how the situation effects quality of life, safety and makes it intimidating for people walking through the underpass.
During last Wednesday’s meeting Councilman Jack Feller said the homeless issue is a growing problem.
After the meeting Feller said the sizable number of individuals who choose to be homeless and live on Oceanside streets is impacting all parts of the city. He said the situation is frustrating and needs to be resolved.
No-smoking regulations provide police a tool with which to address individuals who are loitering and smoking. Feller said more needs to be done.