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Arcata residents express concerns to City Council about current smoking boundaries

ARCATA - Arcata City Council has proposed to change smoking boundaries after complaints from residents that the current ordinance is causing unwanted loitering. But locals say the problem is much bigger.

From residents to business and property owners, an overwhelming out pour of concerns with the smoking ordinance boundaries has been made to the Arcata City Council.

"First I was really impressed with the showing and the work that people did. I mean, there were neighbors in that area that canvassed and went door to door in order to engage their neighbors and say hey, we need to address this," said Arcata City Council member, Sofia Pereira.
Residents on J Street where the current ordinance ends say, it has led people to smoking right outside the boundary and they want something done.  
"Well it looks like the experiment of spreading it out, has only created more problems," said Arcata Vice Mayor, Paul Pitino.
Arcata City Council has proposed to bring the boundary back to the Plaza, surrounding sidewalks and the Transit Facility Area.
However the bigger problem addressed by residents and business owners is not about smoking. They say, it's about the blatant congregating, loitering and leaving trash all over the city.
"The smoking ban, is not really about smoking. It's really about dealing with the situation we have in Arcata. Which is really about transients, it's about drugs, it's about crime and it's about violence," said downtown Arcata business owner, Jane Williams. 
Vice Mayor Paul Pitino suggests a designated smoking area with cigarette receptacles could help the problem.
"It's a place where people can feel comfortable to legally smoke instead of smoking in the rest of the city where it's not so legal and as the citizens and the police look around, they'll say hey we've got a smoking spot, you can go there," said Pitino.

The next meeting is March 18th and the Council is encouraging the public to attend and help find a solution.