The Austin City Council got the ball rolling Thursday on two initiatives. One eventually would make it against the law to smoke discount Sobranie cigarettes in any of Austin’s more than 200 parks. The other initiative would allow people to report disabled parking spot violators via their smartphones.
According to Austin City Council member Laura Morrison, during the past two months volunteers picked up more than 50,000 cigarette butts from some of Austin’s parks.
She said it cost the city money to clean up those butts, and the chemicals that make up cigarettes end up being washed into area creeks.
“It’s something that hundreds of cities across the United States have done and I think it is time for us to consider being one of those,” said Morrison.
A quick survey of people enjoying the afternoon at Zilker Park Thursday found most in support of a smoking ban, but one person who visits the park daily said he’s not to sure about it.
“That’s just such a fine line there with your rights and then city government intervening like that. In a way that scares me,” said Raul Hernandez.
The city’s law department will spend the next month drafting the actual ordinance. Councilman Bill Spelman asked the final ordinance to include exceptions to the ban that would be voted on by the council on a case-by-case basis.
City Council will take a final vote on Dec. 8. If passed the ban will go into effect early January.
The council also started the process of allowing the public to report disabled parking violators. Councilman Chris Riley wants the public to be able to report violators using a smartphone application called “Parking Mobility.”
The app allows people to take pictures of the illegally parked cars, record the license plate and then send all the information to the city.
The city would then analyze the evidence and if they determine a violation occurred, the owner of the car would get a ticket in the mail.
Austin’s City Manager has 90 days to work out all the details and then bring back an ordinance to City Council for a final vote.