Spokane Valley council bans e-cigarettes for minors

The Spokane Valley City Council followed in the footsteps of Spokane and Spokane County by voting unanimously Tuesday to enact a ban on selling e-cigarettes to minors.

The city’s new ordinance includes fines for businesses that sell to minors as well as penalties for minors who are in possession of the devices, which use a liquid to deliver nicotine.

Ronell Routon said she works for Smart Smoke, which sells e-cigarettes in six locations in Spokane County, including one in Spokane Valley. She urged the council to approve the ordinance. “It’s very important that it does pass,” she said.

She acknowledged that her industry is not regulated, but said her company has gone the extra step to clearly label all their products and already have their own policy not to sell to minors. “We have been self-regulating ourselves for two years,” she said.

The ordinance will take effect on March 31 so the Spokane County Health District, which has been orchestrating the bans in the various jurisdictions, has time to educate businesses on the new rules.

The council also voted unanimously to accept a $140,000 grant from the Transportation Improvement Board to install sidewalks on 24th Avenue between Adams and Sullivan roads. Most TIB grants pay for 80 percent of a project’s cost, but that wasn’t requested this time because there was only $209,000 in sidewalk program funds available this year for the entire East region, said senior engineer Steve Worley. Instead the city requested slightly less than 50 percent of the anticipated project cost, leaving the city to come up with $151,000 in matching funds.

That section of 24th Avenue was selected because it runs by Sunrise Elementary, Worley said. Some sections of the road have sidewalks, but some don’t. Children going to and from school frequently walk in the street, which can be dangerous, Worley said.

Councilwoman Brenda Grassel noted that documents in the council’s packet indicated that the city could afford the project.

“Which fund is that actually coming out of?” she said.

Worley said the money would come out of the Street Capital Projects fund and would be included in the next updated version of the city’s six-year transportation improvement plan.

Planning Commissioner Arne Woodard spoke in favor of the project. He drives in that area frequently and sees the danger to children, he said. “I would encourage the council to sign this,” he said. “I’m glad this is a project that was presented. That, to me, is the most dangerous school area in Spokane Valley.”

In other business, the council heard reports on Planning Commission recommendations to change city code to allow chickens in residential areas and tighten the language dealing with adult retail businesses. In the latter case the Planning Commission is actually recommending stricter language than the staff recommended, said Lori Barlow, associate planner. The new language would address the showing of movies in adult retail businesses for a fee, an activity that is supposed to be limited to the more tightly regulated adult entertainment businesses.

The staff-recommended language says that merchandise may be viewed, but the viewing cannot be in exchange for money. The tougher version goes a step further in saying that only promotional film clips can be shown, not entire movies, and that it must take place in full public view on the sales floor.

The proposed ordinance will come before the council twice more and the council will be able to choose which version of the text to use.

City Manager Mike Jackson said the city has received a request from the city of Liberty Lake to partner to build entrance signs on the border between the two cities on Appleway. “Actually this has been around for a while,” Jackson said, noting that it was first mentioned months ago.

This time, however, Liberty Lake has presented a proposed design and a rough cost estimate. The plan is to put a brick monument sign with solar lighting on each side of the road, with each costing an estimated $25,000. The signs would welcome drivers to Liberty Lake on one side and Spokane Valley on the other. The cost estimate only includes the signs, not the actual lettering or any required landscaping, Jackson said.

Jackson said it would be a good way to have a sign, which the council has discussed before, while not paying the full cost. The city could add lettering at its leisure. “There’s no hurry for us to come up with our design,” he said.

The city has $100,000 set aside in the 2001 budget for records management, and Jackson said the council could take $30,000 of that for a sign. “We would not need all of that this year,” he said.

The council seemed hesitant to move forward quickly on the issue and questioned how much lettering and landscaping might cost. “I think a little bit more information would be beneficial to us,” said Mayor Tom Towey. “I would imagine we have a little bit of time.”

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