John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Also, Tampa is going to ban water pistols (but not real guns) from the 2012 Republican National Convention, and more.
Welcome back to our weekly look at what's been outlawed in cities across the world (last week's edition here):
• To prepare for unruly protestors at the 2012 Republican National Convention, Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn is drawing up a list of things that the police will treat as "security threats." On the list: BB guns, water pistols, masks, pieces of string longer than 6 inches. Not on the list: Actual, bullet-shooting guns. Buckhorn's hands are tied when it comes to banning these popular weapons for assassins because Florida law mandates that "any local ordinance that regulates guns is void," the city attorney told the Tampa Tribune. While the Secret Service will take away the guns of conventioneers who enter the event's inner sanctum (let's hope not from their cold, dead hands), anybody will be allowed to pack heat in the outer "clean zone." Protest signs, however, are still forbidden if they include wood sticks larger than a ruler.
• Faced with screeching, bratty offspring who throw tantrums when they can't eat ice cream, parents in Park Slope are fantasizing about banning vendors who sell frozen treats from playgrounds. This fun fact blew up this week when the New York Post ran a mocking story ("Slopers: Creamy a River!") about commenters on ParkSlopeParents.com writing stuff like, "I was able to avoid it for a little but I eventually left with a crying 4-year-old" and "I should not have to fight with my children every warm day on the playground just so someone can make a living!" After being attacked by an army of trolls from NYP (“I wish cancer upon you!!!!!!”)
and elsewhere, the website removed the piece (at least, I can't find it) and published a tongue-in-cheek update saying that ice cream should be allowed in playgrounds. That is, as long as the dessert uses "Certified Humane" eggs from free-range chickens and milk from "organically-fed and hormone-free dairy cows raised within 50 miles of Brooklyn in barns built of reconstituted plastic bottles (in the shape and color of actual wood, so as not to frighten the cows with unfamiliar architecture)."
• ROTFL and LOLing are not cool anymore in the general meetings of the Palos Hills City Council, just southwest of Chicago. The body has established a policy prohibiting the use of cell phones and iPads during the meetings, though not for reasons you might initially suspect (that infernal Alderman Mark Brachman's playing "Angry Birds" with the sound on again!). Rather, if a government official sends a text during an open meeting he or she might run afoul of open-meetings laws. As Alderman A.J. Pasek told the Palos Heights Reporter: "Let’s say you wanted to talk to one of your girlfriends or boyfriends or husband or wife; it can be used against you in a court of law if you say something that you should not be saying during a meeting." The local police chief and public works commissioner are exempt from the policy because their jobs frequently deal with emergencies.
• Is Monrovia the lamest city in Southern California? A recent ban on new head shops blows strong evidence that way. The city council has passed a moratorium on stores that sell bongs, hookahs and "herbal supplements" to prevent new neighbors like the recently opened O.G. Smoke Shop from moving in. This is in a state where medical marijuana is legal. Lobbying in support of the ban was Pam Fitzpatrick, owner of the Dollmaker's Kattywompus, which confused everyone because that business totally sounds like a head shop. (It's a toy store.) Her involvement led one person on the Monrovia Patch to complain: "Today it is a head shop, tomorrow it is a type of restaurant, and what follows? A doll shop? Some kids have been known to do satanistic things to dolls."
• Smokers must now shuffle about 30 feet away from playgrounds when they light a cancer stick in Edmonton, Alberta. Under a new prohibition aimed at protecting the health of wee ones, the city hall has also outlawed cigarettes from playgrounds, skate parks, sports fields and outdoor rinks. Violators must cough up $250 and put the cigarette out on their tongue to show they don't care and are still tough (nah). A story on the ban in the Toronto Sun prompted this hazed-out question from a commenter, who perhaps wandered in from Monrovia: "Is this a bylaw against tobacco or does it include cannabis as well?"
Top photo courtesy Flickr user freeformkatia .