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Santa Monica Bans Smoking in New Apartments
By Jason Islas
July 12, 2012 -- All new apartments and condos -- and old ones getting new tenants -- in Santa Monica could be designated smoke-free after the City Council voted 4 to 2 to pass stricter anti-smoking rules in multi-family residences Tuesday.
The new ordinance, which will have to undergo a second reading before becoming law, would also require current residents to designate their units as smoking or non-smoking. If the resident fails to designate the apartment, it will automatically become a non-smoking unit.
“We’re part of a vanguard that is moving forward on this issue,” said Mayor Richard Bloom.
Santa Monica would join three dozen other cities in California that have restricted smoking in private residences in multi-family buildings, including Compton, Pasadena, Baldwin Park and Alameda.
Council member Bobby Shriver came out in strong support of the ordinance.
“I’m tired of listening to folks say we have to protect the tenancies of chain smokers, personally,” he said to applause.
He called on the audience to stop clapping so that they wouldn’t make those on the dais with the opposite opinion “feel bad, even though they’re wrong.”
One of those who were “wrong,” according to Shriver, was Council member Kevin McKeown, who said, “I’m not comfortable with using second-hand smoke to create second-class citizens.”
McKeown said he was worried that the “document and disclose” portion of the law would become a “demonize and displace” policy, targeting rent-control tenants who smoke.
“We might as well hammer a big yellow ‘S’ on their front door,” he said, a sentiment which Shriver called an “overstatement.”
Council member Terry O’Day said, “We’re protecting renters, not targeting renters, with this.”
“It’s your right to keep a messy home, but it’s not your right to keep such a messy home that attracts rats" to neighboring units, he said.
The ban comes more than three years after the City Council banned smoking in outdoor common areas of apartments and condos, allowing victims of secondhand smoke to file civil claims against smokers.
The 2009 law, however, requires the tenants try to work out any dispute among themselves before bringing the matter before a court.
Two years later, the Council decided to ban smoking in all new hotels in the City. McKeown also opposed the hotel smoking ban, saying it would alienate visitors from parts of the world where smoking is the norm.
The December 2011 meeting was also the first time staff brought forward the idea of banning smoking in new apartments and condominiums. McKeown opposed the idea then, as well.
If the new ordinance passes its second reading, it would go into effect 30 days later.
Council member Pam O’Connor cast the other dissenting vote.
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