Burbank smoking ban burns some business owners

first_imgBURBANK – Six months into the city’s tough anti-smoking ordinance – and more than 250 citations later – some downtown business owners are banding together to fight it. They say the smoking ban scares away customers, and that it’s too harsh, forcing renegade smokers to appear in court. “It’s ridiculous,” said Jessica Ullo, manager of Picanha Brazilian Bar and Grill. “Everybody here smokes, and it’s like where are we supposed to go for our breaks?” Barry Kessler, 48, owner of a downtown jewelry store bearing his family name, has led the charge against the anti-smoking ordinance. In the coming weeks he plans to bring together business owners and petition the council to ease up on smokers. At least two council members still support the ordinance, which could be difficult to overturn. “I think there’s an overwhelmingly desire to experience outdoor dining and shopping in a smoke-free environment,” said Mayor Marsha Ramos, the only council member still on the panel who voted for the ordinance. “As far as I know, there’s been no willingness on the part of the council to overturn this,” she said. Burbank adopted the smoking ordinance after Calabasas and Santa Monica adopted their own ordinances. Since Burbank passed its ordinance, Beverly Hills has toughened up its rules on outdoor smoking. City Councilwoman Anja Reinke joined the council after the ordinance was approved, but she supports it. And she said residents and business owners also tell her they support it. “At first, people had to get used to the whole thing, and now that it’s up and running I think it’s working out fine,” Reinke said. Tate Holland, 42, president of the Make-Up Designory in downtown Burbank, also has problems with the ordinance, even though he has never smoked in his life. “It’s not a workable ordinance. It’s unrealistic,” Holland said. MUD is a makeup school, with plenty of young students who enjoy puffing on cigarettes. For years, they would gather at the back door to smoke, but the ordinance disrupted that pastime. For Karrieann Sillay, 32, a teacher at MUD, her smoking habit caused her some headaches in court. Sillay was issued a citation for smoking in a parking lot, but when she missed her court date a warrant was issued for her arrest, she said. Sillay was never arrested and the officer had the citation withdrawn, because it was unclear if smoking in the middle of the parking lot was OK, she said. But the experience left her unsettled. “I was incredibly livid. I was like shaking. I was really upset,” she said. Burbank City Councilman David Gordon, who joined the council after the ordinance was adopted, said he did not support the ordinance from the beginning. “I am a nonsmoker, but if I was a smoker and I was fined and I had to take a half a day off my work to go and appear in court, it could cost me several thousand dollars in absence from my business,” Gordon said. “For a first-time offense: smoking.” But now that it’s in effect, Gordon said, he wants to allow enough time to see how the ordinance works out before revisiting it. He declined to say how long the test period should last.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWhicker: Clemson demonstrates that it’s tough to knock out the champOnce burned by a big fine, customers avoid Burbank, he said. “They’re going somewhere else, and those people are gone and we’ll never see them again,” Kessler said. “So this is why it’s distressing.” Under the ordinance, judges typically issue fines of about $200 for a first offense, said Michael Forbes, deputy city planner. A second offense can cost $380. The ordinance was adopted by a 3-2 vote of the council in March, and it went into effect in May. Except for a few designated areas, it bans smoking anywhere downtown, from Burbank Boulevard to Angeleno Avenue, and from First to Third streets. In the rest of the city, the ordinance bans smoking in city parks and on sidewalks, and 20-feet from businesses. The special restrictions apply to downtown because the 20-foot rule covers most of the area. last_img read more