AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Not on a cold day in January, but sidewalk cafes downtown are popular and that has some wondering if the city should take an extra step when it comes to regulating them.
Downtown businesses that want to set up tables and chairs outside, now must pay a $25 dollar application fee.
“This is just ridiculous to keep nickel and dimeing these businesses and the citizens of this city, it’s just ridiculous to do that,” said Commissioner John Clarke who voted against.
City leaders have been working on sidewalk cafe rules for months, but should the changes stop with a new fees, inside these businesses it’s a smoke fee, so should that ban include the outside tables too?
“Smoke free,” said Brad Usry who owns a Broad Street restaurant with tables outside.
“Even on the outside?”
“In my opinion, smoke free is an extension of the restaurant. I say smoke free if they want to go off a little further I don’t want to be affected by smoke,” said Usry.
It took the city many tries to pass the smoking ban, so do commissioners want to extend it to include sidewalk cafes.
“Well I’m a little biased but I think if you sit outside of a a restaurant you should be able to smoke,” said Commissioner Dennis Williams.
“I don’t see anything wrong with people smoking at the tables no, not at all,” said Commissioner Clarke.
But the organization Keep Augusta Beautiful noticed that cigarette butt litter has increased by 40 percent since Augusta’s indoor smoking ban started a year ago.
“What we came across downtown on Broad Street we would see those cigarette containers but we still see butts around on th ground it’s so easy for people to flick that butt and not think about it,” said Edkesha Anderson the Program Director.
Though the city’s smoking ordinance doesn’t say how far it does require to leave public buildings when they want to light up no ifs, ands though plenty of butts. in Augusta George Eskola WJBF NewsChannel 6.