In an effort to keep Islamorada clean, village officials are looking to raise awareness of cigarette butt littering.
While receptacles are in place for disposal, not everyone uses them. Instead, smokers flick cigarette butts away.
During a recent meeting, Vice Mayor Mike Forster brought up the matter and discussed with fellow council members possible ways to bring more awareness. Forster noted that Key West is drafting an ordinance that would require private establishments to have receptacles and signs that warn against violations.
While receptacles are a must and signs a good idea, Islamorada council members agreed the village should pursue signs instead of imposing another expense on local business. Forster said he thought Key West’s ordinance is a good one to duplicate for continuity of the Keys as a whole.
“It’s all about talking about it. It’s all about the education about it,” Forster said. “And it goes back to giving code enforcement people the tools to enforce the rules that we have.”
Village Attorney Roget Bryan said there’s partial overlap with existing regulations regarding litter in village code. It’s already unlawful to throw or deposit litter in any manner or amount on any street, other public place, or body of water within the village, except in public receptacles or in authorized private receptacles. Those found in violation could be issued a citation or notice to appear in county court.
While tobacco products are called out in the code, Bryan said it doesn’t expressly deal with cigarette butts. He said it wouldn’t be a heavy lift to amend the ordinance.
“It appears at a staff level to be an enhancement of our existing litter regulations,” he said.
Councilman Ken Davis said he has no issue with signs. He said it’s a way to show community pride.
“When we do that our visitors will follow,” he said. “Until we start, don’t expect them to do it in on their own.”
Councilman Jim Mooney said the village should make signs instead of letting businesses do them.
“I think you’d be better received than imposing on business,” he said. “Just let people know Islamorada things clean. You have to plant the seed first.”
Mayor Deb Gillis noted that discussion came up a few years ago related to cigarette butts, and council backed off since the village’s litter ordinance covered it. Overall, Gillis said she likes the idea of the village providing signs along the road. Village staff and Forster will meet to work on signs to keep Islamorada clean.
“It will make our town a little bit better,” Forster said.