SIMI VALLEY – The Simi Valley Town Center is welcoming shoppers who bring along their pooches, but cigarette-puffing patrons are finding themselves in the doghouse. Mall officials recently introduced two new policies: One bans smoking at the open-air center. The other allows folks to bring their dog for a day of shopping. “I think it sucks,” said Raul Cervantes, 19, a smoker. “If it was indoors, it would be different. It’s outdoors. People shouldn’t be told where they can or cannot smoke. We should be able to smoke here.” The new regulations are the result of a survey using a sampling of 350 people, which indicated customers want a smoke-free, pet-friendly mall. “I don’t like it,” the 20-year-old Simi Valley man said, smoking a cigarette outside one of the stores last week. “It’s ridiculous. People are always telling other people what to do.” In comment cards since the mall’s opening last October, shoppers repeatedly complained about smokers lighting up, while others hated the idea of being asked to leave because of their pets, Lenners said. Kim Perez of Simi Valley said she takes her soft-coated wheaten terrier, Kenna, everywhere she goes, and that she was removed from the mall before the recent rule change. “I respect people,” she said. “The dog is not hurting anybody. I don’t take her to the (food court). If she was aggressive, I would not have her here.” The news also was well-received by Barbara McLaren and her 5-month old puppy, Rozella. “I want her to come out with me (to) places and meet people, … socialize,” she said. “This is great.” City Councilman Glen Becerra said the mall appears to be responsive to what its customers want. While he applauds the smoking ban, he has concerns with the change in pet policy. “Would I feel comfortable walking with my children when someone is coming down the pathway with an 80-pound dog at their side?” Becerra said. “If they are toy dogs people carry in purses, I’d have less concern.” Lenners said mall officials plan to enforce the rules by posting no-smoking signs throughout the shopping center. The issue of pets will be addressed in the code-of-conduct guidelines displayed at each of the mall’s entrances. Smokers now will only be allowed to smoke in the mall’s parking lot and in restaurants that allow it in their outdoor seating areas. Pets must be on a leash and cannot be left unattended. If the animal is overly aggressive or is believed to be a threat to the public, its owner will be asked to leave. Mall officials are also considering installing stations with bags for waste cleanup. For owners who don’t pick up after their pets, “housekeeping staff is ready and prepared to handle anything that might be missed,” Lenners said. Jamie Santos, a Simi Valley mother of three, said while she is not surprised at the decision to snuff out smoking at the mall, she dislikes the idea of dogs strolling the trellised and covered walkways. “Not all dog owners clean up after their pets,” she said. “I can see how you can clean the poo, but how can they get rid of the pee odor?” Angie Valencia-Martinez, (805) 583-7604 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card “We’re simply responding to what the community is telling us,” said Greg Lenners, the mall’s general manager. “It’s a positive thing.” The Mediterranean-style shopping center, with the slogan “A Breath of Fresh Air,” is the first regional mall to be built in Ventura County in a quarter-century and features more than 120 specialty stores, sit-down restaurants and a food court. The no-smoking rule comes on the heels of an ordinance passed by the Calabasas City Council strictly regulating smoking in public places. The change also was spurred by new research designating secondhand smoke a toxic contaminant, Lenners said. “That helped in making the decision,” he said. But Eddie Corner feels differently.
AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBasketball roundup: Sierra Canyon, Birmingham set to face off in tournament quarterfinals160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! The heat is on and all bets are off as Sherman Oaks’ own Katharine McPhee faces Alabama good ol’ boy Taylor Hicks in the “American Idol” finals tonight. And of course each singer has a cadre of loyal fans with a slate of reasons why each deserves the crown as a result of tonight’s voting. We’re all for Kat here at the Daily News, but for the other side of the story we asked Hicks’ hometown paper, The Birmingham News, to give its arguments for a Taylor over Kat victory. Ten reasons for a McPhee McVictory. 1. McPhee is prettier than Taylor and she’s got the creamiest voice of the season. 2. Kat had her “moment” when she sang “Over the Rainbow,” and even Simon Cowell dropped his scowl. Has Taylor had his moment? 3. It’s in the genes Kat’s mom is a vocal coach and dad is a TV producer. 4. More women than men have become “Idol” winners. 5. Better hair. That gray’s gotta go. 6. “McPhee” sounds cooler than “Hicks.” 7. Kat doesn’t dance like she’s being manipulated from above by strings. 8. Jerry Mathers the Beav in “Leave it to Beaver” went to Notre Dame High in Sherman Oaks, where Kat graduated. 9. Kat can sign autographs with both her right and left hand. 10. Kat knows how to make friends. In the final cut-down show for “Idol s” Top 24, McPhee was so excited she kissed all three judges on the lips. Your turn, Taylor. — Fred Shuster Taylor Hicks should win “American Idol.” 1. Song choices approved by reps for George Harrison and Bruce Springsteen. How cool is that? 2. Compare their dance moves. No contest. 3. Because he’d never, ever smile nonstop while singing “Ain’t Got Nothin’ But the Blues.” 4. If Elvis had a little brother, he’d look like Taylor. 5. “Saturday Night Live” doesn’t spoof just anyone. 6. A soul man trumps an ice princess every time. 7. Gray is the new blond. 8. Taylor didn’t wear Paula’s tacky new jewelry line on camera. 9. With Soul Patrol, we’re talkin’ ’bout a revolution. McPheever sounds like a sickness. 10. So Katharine’s dad will really have a reason to cry. — The Birmingham News’ Features staff