City extends tobacco store moratorium

By Brett Callwood

At the City Council meeting on the evening of Tuesday, May 9, the council unanimously voted in favor of a moratorium on new tobacco/smoke shops.

Public Hearing Item 13B read, “an Ordinance Extending the Moratorium Prohibiting New Significant Tobacco Retail Businesses from Establishing in the City. Staff respectfully recommends that the Council conduct a public hearing and adopt Urgency Ordinance No. 1853, an extension of the moratorium prohibiting any new Significant Tobacco Retailer businesses from establishing in the City.”

The issue was previously discussed at a meeting on March 28, when a staff note read, “The number of Significant Tobacco Retailers has increased significantly within the City from ten (10) in October 2021 to sixteen (16) in March 2023. The proliferation of these types of businesses and the harmful effects of tobacco on the residents, and more specifically the youth, is of concern to the City… The adoption of Urgency Ordinance 1850 would allow staff time to conduct the necessary research, hold study sessions if desired by the Council, and ultimately bring back an ordinance related to Significant Tobacco Retail businesses. Successful adoption of this Ordinance requires a 4/5 vote of the City Council and would become effective immediately for 45 days.”

That has now been extended, and it’s an area where all five members are in full agreement. This, despite the fact that there has been some tension in recent meetings, particularly between Mayor Tasha Cerda and Mayor Pro Tem Paulette Francis. The cross words tend to be over process, rather than any opposing political views.

Earlier, the council voted to approve the continuation of the Gardena Police Department’s use of equipment classified as military. This is an issue which will come up annually.

There was some debate over the issue of whether to completely upgrade the Council Chambers’ audio visual equipment to allow for hybrid meetings. Eventually they decided to hire a consultant and take note of the findings.