Responding to a multitude of complaints over this past year, the City of Calistoga will be taking action to curb alcohol consumption in public parks.
The city currently has no ordinance for drinking in city parks.
Police Chief Mitch Celaya said due to the pandemic, a lot of indoor activities have been moved outdoors.
“We’re getting an uptick of complaints associated with alcohol ... in Pioneer Park in particular,” he said at Tuesday’s city council meeting. “(The behavior) doesn’t lead to a criminal act but makes it difficult to deal with.”
According to the staff report, over the past year, the same group of people has been gathering at Pioneer Park drinking and socializing, littering, with at times unruly, intoxicated behavior that intimidates other park users.
“All of this has resulted in complaints to the police, and increased police patrolling service calls and park maintenance costs. The additional police patrolling and cleanup requires additional staff effort and expense which could be directed elsewhere within the community,” the report said.
Mayor Chris Canning said the city has also received numerous complaints about people drinking in the park, from nearby residents, and those trying to conduct outdoor wellness classes such as yoga.
“People are not comfortable there. It’s awkward to conduct a wellness class when people are gawking,” he said, also noting instances of public urination and littering of bottles and cans. “It’s a small group of people that have created this situation. We are far too small a community to allow this to continue to happen and interfere with quiet function of the parks.”
Other activities reported by park users as public safety issues and causing loud and unsettling noise have been the use of bullwhips, where significant injury could occur.
The recommended ordinance amendment would prohibit all alcohol consumption, noises and uses of dangerous items that pose a risk to public safety, or acts which unreasonably interfere with approved activities, recreational programs, classes, and social activities, and establishes normal hours of operation for all city parks.
The city council will give its final approval Dec.1, and the ordinance would be effective 30 days after adoption. The council will consider a separate resolution that will set new park hours Dec. 1 or Dec. 15. Staff will recommend park hours of operation to be sunrise to one hour after sunset. Pioneer Park now closes at 10 p.m.
Exceptions to the amended ordinance would include events like Concerts in the Park which are required to apply for a permit.
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You can reach Cynthia Sweeney at 942-4035 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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