“City Council and staff knew at the time of adoption this effort would not be accomplished overnight and it would involve significant public outreach to effect a community behavioral change that would mark this program’s success in the long haul,” Engel said.
The City Council in October voted to prohibit lighting up on all city property, including parks, in common areas of apartment complexes, outdoor dining areas that can’t meet strict separation requirements and nearly all publicly accessible private property, such as the Marketplace and Americana at Brand.
The regulations went into effect in November, but the city delayed strict enforcement to allow for a public education and outreach campaign. So far, only five citations have been issued for violations, according to a city report.
The outreach campaign, which went into full swing last month, includes public service announcements, theater ads, fliers and brochures.
Amid general support on the dais for revisiting the ordinance, Councilman Ara Najarian again urged for houses of worship to be exempt from the regulations because of 1st Amendment rights to freedom of religion.
“If it’s a house of worship, I think we have to stay out of there,” he said.
But Mayor Frank Quintero said he would only support an exemption for religious services and events, not for entire church campuses.
The council also keyed in on requests for more signage.
Currently, the ordinance does not require that signs be posted in all prohibited areas, which has made it more difficult to enforce, Engel said. Requiring signs would especially help in educating visitors to the city, he added.