The Pleasanton City Council is set to weigh potential regulations on e-cigarettes and flavored tobacco Tuesday night, attempting to find solutions to help curb teen vaping in the community.
The proposed vaping ordinance -- which calls for new restrictions on vapor product sales, but not an all-out ban as the city’s Youth Commission recommended -- is scheduled as the second public hearing of a busy council meeting, following a discussion on the East Pleasanton Specific Plan.
“Staff has formulated a recommendation for City Council consideration that seeks to limit access and exposure to tobacco products, particularly for youth, without unduly impacting existing businesses and adult consumers,” community development director Ellen Clark and library and recreation director Heidi Murphy wrote in their staff report to the council.
The five-pronged proposal from city staff hinges in part on a key distinction between the types of businesses that sell tobacco products, one of which would be allowed to offer vapor products going forward and the other would not.
City staff recommends prohibiting the sale of flavored tobacco products, electronic smoking devices and paraphernalia by tobacco retailers, defined as businesses like grocery stores, gas stations and convenience stores in which tobacco sales are incidental to the main business -- of which Pleasanton currently has 49.
But the proposed ordinance would allow flavored tobacco, e-cigarettes and other vaping products to be sold at tobacco stores, considered as a business in which 60% or more of its revenue is from tobacco product sales and store entry is restricted to adults-only. There are four such businesses on record in the city.
Those recommendations go against the full prohibition pushed by the Youth Commission, nor are they directly in line with input from the Economic Vitality Committee, which opposed any ban on flavored tobacco sales but supported disallowing any new vaping device retailers.
Other aspects of the proposed ordinance include prohibiting new tobacco retailers and new tobacco stores within 1,000 feet of public schools, parks and recreation facilities while existing retailers and stores within that distance could continue operating as grandfathered in.
The new city law would also direct staff to develop and implement a new tobacco retailer licensing program that would require all tobacco retailers and tobacco stores to obtain an annual permit from the city. They would then be subject to fines and permit revocation for sales violations.
The fifth point of the ordinance would formally prohibit anyone under 21 years old from possessing any tobacco product, subject to confiscation and diversion -- but no criminal penalties or fines.
Council members will wade into the vaping debate on Tuesday and make the final call on the ordinance provisions. If they reach a consensus on the regulations, the ordinance could be introduced that night, with the second reading and final adoption to follow next month.
The vaping ordinance is among the main items on Tuesday night’s open-session meeting agenda, scheduled to get underway at 7 p.m. at the Pleasanton Civic Center at 200 Old Bernal Ave.
In other business
* The council will confirm the public planning process for when the city restarts work on the East Pleasanton Specific Plan, the city policy document that would lay the groundwork for future development on the large swath of land on the far southeastern edge of the city long eyed for large-scale redevelopment with residential, commercial and other uses.
The public drafting and review process recommended by city staff centers around workshops and meetings overseen by the Planning Commission, with regular check-ins with the council along the way, as opposed to creating a new task force like what happened the last time the city undertook east side planning several years ago.
The final city deliberations on the specific plan, once completed, would occur before the council -- though a public vote on ratification remains a real possibility, but has not been confirmed.
The council first discussed the new east side planning process on Nov. 19, with Mayor Jerry Thorne and council members Kathy Narum and Jerry Pentin voicing support for the staff-recommended concept while councilwomen Karla Brown and Julie Testa were more hesitant.
The final council discussion has been delayed for more than two months for scheduling reasons.
City officials want to restart east side planning soon to solidify the specific plan to help maintain local control over development of the area ahead of future state housing mandates, and they contend the planning process would dovetail nicely with the next regional housing needs allocation (RHNA) cycle.
Some residents in town -- including the PleasantonVoters.com citizen group -- oppose the proposal, arguing the city is rushing unnecessarily to restart east side planning with a poor process and should instead wait for the next RHNA numbers to be released.
City staff expects to begin the estimated 18- to 24-month planning process in the spring. The process would be paid for by Pleasanton-based developer Ponderosa Homes, which has secured agreements with the major private property owners on the east side, but all consultant contracts would be retained and managed independently by the city, staff said.
* The council will consider giving final approval to rezoning ordinance for the Johnson Drive Economic Development Zone, the regulatory framework that would allow redevelopment of 40 acres near the I-580/I-680 interchange to bring a new Costco store, two hotels and other commercial uses.
The council unanimously endorsed the JDEDZ ordinance at the first reading two weeks ago.
The second reading and final adoption is listed among the council’s nine-item consent calendar, a collection of items deemed routine and voted upon all at once unless pulled for separate consideration.
Other consent items include increasing the speed limit to 40 mph (up 35 mph) on Stoneridge Drive between Kamp Drive and Trevor Parkway, establishing a 40 mph speed limit on El Charro Road, approving amendments to the city’s pension trust fund policy guidelines, and accepting public improvements by Vintage Contractors for renovating the basketball courts at Meadowlark and Ken Mercer Sports parks for $164,261.
* Council members will also meet in closed session with city officials to talk about the ongoing labor negotiations with the Pleasanton Police Officers’ Association, beginning at 6:30 p.m.