Conejo Parks outlaws smoking and vaping

Jasmine Perez, Reporter

Conejo Parks and Recreation District board members voted unanimously to ban smoking and vaping at public parks, effective by the end of March.

During the Feb. 20 meeting, board members, George M. Lange,  Doug Nickles, Susan L. Holt, Chuck Huffer and Nellie Cusworth, voted 5-0 to ban smoking and vaping in public parks. Once in effect, those caught smoking or vaping within 25 feet of public parks will receive a $100 fine. 

The idea for this new ban came after a resident voiced her concern to Cusworth about the environmental health of the Sapwi Trails Community Park.

“As I am a fairly new member of the board, I was surprised that smoking was allowed at parks at all,” Cusworth said. “I did a little research on the internet and saw that the state of California had just banned smoking in all their parks and beaches. The neighboring parks Simi [Valley], Camarillo and Los Angeles do not allow smoking in any of their parks with an exception for golf courses.”  

Cusworth said she brought the issues to a board meeting, where it was decided by the CPRD board that changes needed to be made. 

Lange, who has been a member of the CPRD for 30 years and is currently serving as the chair, said the ban is good for public parks. Lange said there has always been a ban on smoking in public parks, but recently got new attention.

“One of our board meetings mentioned her experience and that we should probably consider banning smoking in that Sapwi Trails Community Park because of a fire hazard,” Lange said.

Lange said he has received positive feedback about the idea for the ban, and that the CPRD will cooperate with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department to enforce it.

“But if the ticket is a second time, then there will be more aggressive action,” Lange said.

Jim Friedl, the general manager at CRPD for 16 years, said the new CRPD ordinance is consistent with California State Parks law. 

“I think it will make it easier for the public to understand where it is and isn’t ok to smoke or vape,” Friedl said.

California State Parks adopted this plan back in October, when Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill banning smoking at state parks and state beaches. 

Newsom also said on Feb. 6 they adopted the plan, before it was approved Feb. 20. The plan will take effect later in March.