The La Verne City Council on Monday approved an ordinance that will prohibit new tobacco businesses from opening in the city until January 2016.
The ordinance also restricts existing smoke shops, vapor lounges or hookah lounges from expanding, remodeling or relocating within the city.
“This came about due to a lot of concerns we had from residents and businesses who express concern for having so many tobacco-related businesses readily available to our youth,” said Donna Redman, La Verne Mayor Pro Tem and chairwoman of La Verne Youth and Family Action Committee.
“It was encouraging increased use of tobacco and tobacco-related products,” said Redman, who is also an assistant professor of education at the University.
Members of the Youth and Family Action Committee voiced their concerns about the negative impact of tobacco to chairwoman Redman.
The ordinance was then developed by the city attorney, city manager, community development department and planning staff.
Community development director Hal Fredericksen presented these complaints to city council with the proliferation of smoke shops, vapor and hookah lounges and businesses having more than 20 percent of sales and floor space for tobacco-related products.
“I’m thrilled this moratorium is taking place,” La Verne councilwoman Robin Carder said.
“We need to do something about the tobacco stores going into La Verne because it does not go with the guidelines of our healthy cities program,” said Robin Carder who is also executive assistant to the University’s vice president of enrollment management and communications.
The initial “urgency” ordinance needed four-fifths council approval and received a 5-0 vote in January.
On Monday, the city council unanimously voted to extend the 45-day moratorium, approved in January, a full year until Jan. 20, 2016.
“I’m glad that the city is starting to take action with our youth in mind,” said La Verne resident and parent Sandi Norman.
“There are so many smoke shops in La Verne and it’s always been a concern for me as a parent.”
“This allows time for our city staff to look into more specific requirements and permits to have in place for tobacco-related business,” Redman said.
Currently, existing tobacco shops and lounges do not need conditional use permits to start their businesses, meaning they do not need city council approval.
“A lot of (tobacco) businesses are struggling, so this is good because it stops competition,” said Sam Aboud, La Verne’s Jake’s Smoke Shop owner.
The city already considers alcohol sales, fuel and service stations, fitness clubs, churches, private schools, training facilities and drive-through businesses for conditional use permits.
The city council is looking to gain more control of these businesses in the future, Redman said.
The community development department and the La Verne Police Department will be working together in the near future to develop stricter regulations and restrictions for tobacco businesses.
Kayla Hockman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.