Or will the idea be snuffed out?
We might find out today, Thursday, Dec. 16. The council is scheduled to discuss the issue during its regular monthly meeting, which begins at 5 p.m. at council chambers in city hall, 710 W. Avenue A.
Mayor Keith McMullin said the smoking issue will be addressed soon after the meeting begins.
Councilman Keith Donley has proposed a ban on smoking in public places throughout Port Aransas, including restaurants, bars and other businesses.
Councilman Charles Bujan, who recently underwent abdominal surgery, said he believes he will make it to the meeting. But, if he doesn’t, Donley said he likely will seek to table the topic until January, so all council members can be present to discuss it.
Even if the item ends up being tabled, the council still will hear public comments on the smoking issue today, McMullin said.
Donley’s proposal has spurred 787 votes in a poll that the South Jetty implemented on its Web site, www.portasouthjetty. com. That’s a few hundred more votes than any other poll that the newspap er has conducted.
The unscientifi c poll, conducted over a two-week period ending at noon Tuesday, Dec. 14, resulted in 66 percent of respondents supporting a ban and 34 percent against.
Council members say the smoking issue has stoked more citizen interest than any topic in recent years.
Donley said he wants a new city ordinance created to make it illegal to smoke in public places including restaurants, bars and other businesses because second hand smoke is an annoyance and a health hazard.
McMullin has said he opposes the proposal because he believes the issue is best left to individual business owners to decide.
Other council members are expected to express their opinions at today’s meeting.
Another small Texas coastal tourist town, Rockport, has no ordinance banning smoking in public places. Rockport Mayor C.J. Wax said he can’t recall even an effort for such an ordinance taking place in recent years.
Wax said he’s not a fan of such bans.
“I’m a believer in government doing the things that are necessary, and not necessarily interfering with the operations of private business,” Wax said, adding that he believes most Rockport citizens probably wouldn’t favor a smoking ban.
The South Padre Island City Council approved, by a 5-1 vote, a smoking-ban ordinance a few months ago. It won’t take effect until April 1, because town officials are engaging in a public education campaign to make sure business owners and other citizens understand the new law before enforcement begins.
Councilman Sam Listi spearheaded the effort to get the ban approved.
“I’m worried about the second-hand smoke – not necessarily for (customers) in the bars, because they’re going to smoke anyway,” Listi said. “But what about the wait staff, and employees who maybe don’t smoke? They have to have a job. It’s a health issue, from that standpoint.”
The South Padre Island ordinance was written in such a way to grant a break to bars that have no patios where smokers can go to light up, Listi said. The ordinance says that smoking can be allowed inside such a bar as long as the business derives less than half of its income from food, he said.
Tony Vindell, a reporter with the Port Isabel-South Padre Press, said the issue of the smoking ban sparked little controversy within the community.
“I think most of the people here are kind of conscious of the positive impact of not smoking,” Vindell said.
Even if a majority of the Port Aransas City Council decides during today’s meeting that a smoking ban might be a good idea, no legal prohibition will immediately become law. The most the council could do would be to instruct city staff to draw up a proposed no-smoking ordinance and present it to the council for possible approval at later meetings.
A specific proposed ordinance would have to go through readings and public hearings at three council meetings, probably over the course of three months, before it could be passed into law.
City staff has done some research on how many Port Aransas bars and restaurants allow smoking. Staff listed 14 of the businesses as smoking establishments, 15 as non-smoking and another 15 as having both non-smoking and smoking areas, according to a report that is expected to be provided to the city council as background.
Of the businesses with non-smoking and smoking areas, 13 allow smoking only on outdoor decks or lounges, and three restaurants include designated indoor smoking and non-smoking areas.
One restaurant bans smoking on summer weekends and holidays, the report said.
City Council Agenda
Regul ar Meeting - 5 p.m. Thursday, December 16, 2010
Council chambers, city hal l , 710 W. Ave. A
1. CALL TO ORDER 2. PLEDGE AND PRAYER 3. PUBLIC HEARING A. Discussion on “No” Dune Permits and Beachfront Construction Certificate Applications, 675, 683, 691 Anchor Drive, requested by John Johnson for Bruce Young (applicant). B. Discussion on “No” Dune Permit and Beachfront Construction Certificate Application. Request by Pat McNamara. Property Locations 694 Kaila Court, 675 Gage Way. C. Discussion on Dune Permit and Beachfront Construction Certificate Application by Deborah Winstead. Property at 800 E. Avenue G. D. Discussion on Final Replat Application, Spanish Cottages, 134 N. Alister St., request by Charles L. Pearson, Jr. CITIZEN COMMENTS AND REPORTS: Council is prohibited from acting or discussing (other than factual responses to specific questions) any items brought before them at this time. Comments will be limited to three minutes or less. 4. FINANCIAL REPORT: November Financial Report. 5. CONSENT AGENDA A. APPROVAL OF MINUTES: November 18 B. Declaration of official newspaper and take any necessary action. C. Third reading of amendments to the landscaping ordinance establishing rules applicable to Chapter 10 Health and Sanitation and Chapter 16 Planning and Development, Landscaping. D. First reading of ordinance re-establishing the Port Aransas Police Department as Home Rule Charter Police Department. 6. REGULAR BUSINESS A. Consider and take appropriate action regarding a Non-Smoking Ordinance. B. Consider and take appropriate action on “no” dune permits, dune permits, beachfront construction certificate applications and replats described above. • Resolution authorizing the city manager to award a bid for the 2009 Streets & Drainage Bond, Phase III. • A Resolution authorizing the City Manager to enter into a contract for the City Depository.
• Resolution authorizing the City Manager to enter into an Electric Supply Agreement with STAP (STAP – South Texas Aggregation Project, Inc., said electric supply company will change it’s name January 1, 2011 to TCAP – Texas Coalition for Affordable Power) for deliveries of electricity. • Resolution establishing rules and regulations regarding the use of excessive force during nonviolent civil rights demonstrations. • Consider and take appropriate action regarding setting a speed limit on Nature Preserve Drive in Charlie’s Pasture (proposed 20 mph). • Consider and take appropriate action regarding the special Event Permit for Sandfest 2011. • Consider and take appropriate action regarding serving alcoholic beverages at the 2011 Sandfest. 7. CITY COUNCIL COMMENTS AND ITEMS FOR FUTURE CONSIDERATION 8. ADJOURNMENT