ANTIOCH -- The future will continue to be clouded for those looking to sell tobacco and related products in this city.
Antioch leaders extended a moratorium Tuesday night on permits and licenses for new "smoke shops," putting the brakes on any opening for another year.
The council agreed to the extension because of the city's depleted staffing levels, along with continued health and welfare issues and the complexity of items to be studied.
State law allows a moratorium for two years.
The City Council established a 45-day ban on new smoke shops last May and extended it in July, citing youth exposure to tobacco products and complaints about loitering and police calls for service outside existing storefronts.
"I'm in favor of it, we need to continue it until we can find a solution," Mayor Pro Tem Mary Rocha said.
Councilwoman Monica Wilson added, "I'd like to see us make it permanent. No matter where I've lived, there always seems to be trouble around them."
Resident Lori Cook spoke about the troubles she sees at Deer Valley Plaza, adding that the smoke shop is a "big part of the problem."
"I really don't think we need them. Cigarettes and that stuff are sold at other stores," she said. "The merchants are losing a lot of business over this."
Continuing to halt new approvals gives Antioch time to look at issues such as hours of operation, concentration of locations and proximity to schools and parks, and whether the city should adjust its rules accordingly, Community Development Director Tina Wehrmeister said.
ChangeLab Solutions and the Contra Costa Tobacco Prevention Coalition have discussed options with the city for licensing ordinance and land use options.
According to city statistics, 11 existing stores have generated 59 service calls since last May. Seven of those stores are within blocks of schools.
Wehrmeister pointed out that since the ban, a recently-opened business on Somersville Road was "not forthright" with its business license, and is currently under code enforcement action.
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Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.