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Santa Maria Council to Consider New Library Rules Banning Bulky Personal Items

Library officials cite safety hazards in requesting approval of size restrictions, one-strike limit for serious violations of conduct code

The Santa Maria Public Library will ask the City Council to ban customers from bringing in bulky items and to implement a one-strike rule for customers who commit serious offenses.

The Santa Maria Public Library will ask the City Council to ban customers from bringing in bulky items and to implement a one-strike rule for customers who commit serious offenses.  (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

By Janene Scully, Noozhawk North County Editor | @JaneneScully |

From bikes to huge backpacks, visitors to the Santa Maria Public Library may soon be banned from entering with bulky items that can block aisles, prevent access to book shelves and pose a safety hazard.

Librarian Mary Housel will ask the Santa Maria City Council on Tuesday to adopt an ordinance that would prohibit patrons from taking huge personal items into the library. The meeting will start at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in Council Chambers in City Hall, 110 E. Cook St.

“It’s more or less a safety issue,” she told Noozhawk.

The new rules would require any personal items be able to fit under a chair and prohibit “large personal items that cannot fit under a chair.”

“This is really common for libraries to have some sort of size restriction,” she said.

Some libraries employ a specific size limit, but Housel said the under-the-chair approach seemed simpler.

“We thought it was easier to just make it, ‘It has to fit under a chair,” she said. “That way it’s out of the way and it can’t be tripped on. A lot of the sizes I’ve seen given by other libraries are the size that would fit under a chair, but we wanted to make it easy and not have to get out a tape measure.”

The Lompoc Public Library says customers are not allowed to bring in personal belongings that measure more than 14 inches by 17 inches by 20 inches.

Housel said she has heard concerns that some library customers use metal folding carts to carry a large number of books and are worried those wouldn’t be allowed under the new rule.

“We’re looking at maybe adding a change to allow those types of carts for people who need help carrying their items to check them out,” she added.

Another rule change would implement a one-strike limit for library customers who commit serious violations of the Library Code of Conduct.

Anyone committing a serious violation — defined as behavior that is confrontational, violent, dysfunctional, harassment, a public nuisance or criminal conduct under the California Penal Code — would be issued an immediate exclusion notice.

The library currently allows three violations with verbal and written warnings — whether the offense is serious or minor — before issuing exclusion notices. Currently, a customer could return and repeat the bad behavior two more times before getting an exclusion notice.

“In those situations it’s been really difficult to give three chances before they’re excluded and we’d like to be able to immediately exclude them when they do something that’s serious like that,” Housel said.

The library Board of Trustees has approved both rule changes, Housel added.

If the council approves the first reading of the ordinance Tuesday, the new rules likely would be put into effect by mid-September.

In other items, the council also will consider allowing a car wash in the Bungalow District of the Downtown Specific Plan, which spells out the city’s vision for the future development and uses.

Planning commissioners recommended the council approve the use, which arose because the owners of the existing car wash on East Chapel Street want to undertake a remodel.

Rather than approve an amendment that could open the door to other car washes in the district, the city staff recommends the council include a five-year sunset clause to try to prevent other car wash proposals for the area.

In another item on the agenda, the council will be asked to approve the live broadcast of Planning Commission meetings and record Recreation and Parks Commission meetings to be placed on the city’s website.

The council also will approve the response to the Santa Barbara County Grand Jury regarding the Union Valley Parkway extension.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.




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