SANTEE, Calif. -- On Friday morning, Santee became the last city in San Diego County to ban smoking at public parks.
“It’s a breath of fresh air,” said Kristin McQuiddy, a mother who takes her four kids to Big Rock Park.
The park sits less than 100 feet from Chet F. Harritt Elementary School.
"They empty ash trays in the parking lot, Principal Tylene Hicks said. "They have cigarettes and paraphernalia and things on the floor. Our kids will pick it up without knowing and go, 'look what I found!'"
Laura Koval, a park director at Santee Lakes, is one of the newest city councilmembers. When it comes to this matter, she wanted to clear the air.
"This is very important to me," said Koval, whose father started smoking at age 16 and died from lung disease earlier this year.
With her on board, the Santee City Council banned smoking parks -- and the community is all for it. In a recent poll, 77 percent of people in Santee voted for the smoke ban. Seventy-one percent of smokers approved it, too.
Fines may be issued to those caught smoking. Residents are asked to call Code Compliance at 619-258-4100, ext. 121 to report smokers in city parks.