The Santa Ana City Council Tuesday night unanimously approved a ban on smoking in city parks, citing public health concerns.

In approving the ban, Santa Ana joins several Orange County cities that have enacted the prohibition, including Laguna Beach and Irvine.

“Certainly this will be a message: We don’t want that [smoking] in our park environments,” said Councilman Vincent Sarmiento.

The debate on smoking in public prompts discussions of the proper role of government.

San Clemente Councilman Jim Dahl, when his city was considering the ban, said it imposes “sort of a nanny state.” Dahl ultimately voted for the ban.

Claire Braeburn, executive director of America On Track, a youth mentoring, nonprofit organization, says the rights of children with developing lungs come first.

“Those are the rights we’re looking to protect, the rights of all Santa Ana residents to breathe smoke-free air,” said Braeburn, who was among the speakers at Tuesday’s council meeting.

In other action, council members rejected a council ward boundaries map submitted by city resident Thomas Gordon and gave final approval to the map a council subcommittee drafted.

The city is divided into six wards. Council members are required to live in their wards but are elected by voters citywide. The mayor is the only member of council without an assigned ward.

The new lines cut through several neighborhoods, which prompted complaints from a handful of residents who said neighborhoods should each have one council member to represent their interests.

“Believe me, the residents are confused enough figuring out which ward they’re in,” said resident Connie Hamilton at a previous council meeting. “Splitting the neighborhoods is just very confusing.”

Some residents also complained that the public was left out of the process in which the ward boundaries map was drawn. In response to residents’ complaints about notification of the hearing, City Clerk Maria Huizar said that 360 notices were sent to neighborhood association leaders and that the local news media were notified.

Councilman Sal Tinajero argued that neighborhoods having more than one council member means more representation.

“There has not been one clear example, one piece of data, that shows having multiple council members representing neighborhoods is bad,” Tinajero said.


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