The ordinance, which was first considered at the council’s Sept. 21 meeting and adopted at its Oct. 5 meeting, banned the sales of flavored tobacco products within the city in an attempt to prevent youths from smoking and becoming addicted to tobacco and nicotine.
Proponents of this ordinance included owners of smoke shops in Goleta — which include Goleta Smoke Shop and Hollister Smoke and Vape Shop — and those who use hookah products as part of their cultural rituals.
On Nov. 5, the petition was filed to the Goleta City Clerk’s office with 5,407 signatures.
In order to qualify as a valid referendum, the petition must receive signatures from at least 10% of Goleta’s registered voters.
According to the item’s staff report, a Sept. 14 report from the Santa Barbara County Registrar of Voters said there were 20,395 registered voters in Goleta, meaning the petition would need at least 2,040 valid signatures.
On Dec. 8, the Goleta City Clerk received a Certification Letter from the Santa Barbara County Registrar of Voters office, confirming that the petition had 2,484 valid signatures, certifying that the referendum petition is sufficient.
It has been noted by some Goleta residents that the way signature-gatherers gained support for the petition seemed misleading.
“I’ve received reports that residents have been approached by signature-gatherers for the referendum, and that they were led to believe they were signing a petition to ban flavored tobacco instead of a petition to overturn a ban on flavored tobacco,” Goleta Mayor Paula Perotte said during the Nov. 2 council meeting. “That generates a feeling of being misled in order to get signatures.”
George Farah, owner of Goleta Smoke Shop, said in September that voters should have a chance to vote on whether flavored tobacco should be banned, adding that flavored tobacco products make up a majority of his sales.
The City Council now has a few options to proceed.
The council can completely repeal the ordinance or allow voters to decide the fate of the ban in either a special election or the next municipal election in November 2022.
The council can also hold off on making a decision Tuesday, and direct city staff to come back at a later date with more information and options.
If the ordinance is repealed, whether by the City Council or if it fails to pass by voters, the city would not be able to readopt the ordinance for a one-year period.
The virtual Goleta City Council meeting will be taking place at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday evening on the city’s website.