A petition with a total of 1,083 signatures has made its way to the Mountain View City Clerk's office, two weeks required City Council votes to increase smoking restrictions around the city.
James Neal, a city resident for six years and regular patron at , became inspired to change the minds of councilmembers after the close 4 to 3 vote. He has for the past two weeks gathered signatures from both smokers and non-smokers who frequent the city's sports bars.
Neil believes the new ordinance not only curtails civil liberties, but would actually increase cigarette related trash, the exposure of non-smokers, safety concerns and a reduction in clientele to local businesses. He also wants councilmembers to know that many employees of bars with outdoor patios also smoke. Neal supports a ban of smoking in city parks.
"I didn't start this because I was getting paid or influenced by an owner," said Neal, who learned about the vote to prohibit smoking within 25 feet of an entry or window to a business that sells food or beverages on Tuesday, Jan. 24—the same night of the vote. "I did this on my own because I left the meeting knowing that I wanted to do something."
So Neal, who works in information technology and will finish a degree in finance soon, started gathering signatures at Molly's–where he goes almost four days a week–the very next Thursday. Then he moved on to , , , and .
Half of his signatures, 535 total, came from Mountain View residents and 426, or 39 percent, didn't; 11 percent declined to state an address. Of the signatories, 572 smoked and 511 didn't—that's 53 compared to 47 percent.
A total of 248 of the smokers worked for businesses that allowed smoking on the premises and 146 of the non-smokers didn't. A figured he hoped made councilmembers realize that employees of these business opposed the city's ban to smoke in the outdoor patios.
Mountain View Patch also spoke to employees of these bars, including security guards. Some of the bouncers, in particular, didn't like to breathe in the second-hand smoke.
The comprehensive package Neal put together for the city, and which Patch reviewed before submission to the Clerk's Office, had clear and distinctive signatures of people from all over the Peninsula and South Bay.
The package included the petition, an executive summary, an explanation of the survey's methodology and analysis, and an excel chart and pie graphs with more details.
"People feel strongly about being able to smoke outdoors," said Jackie Graham, owner of Sports Page, about why she supported Neal's efforts. "It's better that bar owners are policing their own properties."
Graham, who previously addressed city council, said that her international clientele would feel unwelcomed in Mountain View because they smoked.
Mountain View's international visitors also signed Neal's petition. Neal explained that if the city promotes diversity, it should also respect culture and in different parts of the world, it's culturally acceptable to smoke.
He just wants a place to go with friends where he can smoke, drink and feel comfortable.
"There's no guarantee that they'll do it, but I hope that with this many signatures, they'll give it some consideration," he said.