By Jason Islas
September 28, 2012 -- A controversial ordinance that would ban smoking -- including smoking marijuana for medical purposes -- in all new apartments and condos throughout Santa Monica will go before the Council again Tuesday after a similar one failed in July.
The ordinance, which originally passed on July 10 on its first reading with a 4-to-2 vote, would force residents living in apartments and condo owners to designate their units as either smoking or non-smoking units and all new tenancies would be non-smoking.
But a version of the ordinance, which was modified to say that units left undesignated by their tenants to default to a non-smoking status, failed its second reading on July 24 when Mayor Richard Bloom changed his vote.
“It's quite unusual,” Bloom said, referring to the fact that this ordinance failed at second reading and will now be considered again by the Council.
But the reason it is coming back is because Bloom coupled his “no” vote on July 24 with a motion to have staff look deeper into the effects of the ordinance on medical marijuana users and on condo owners.
“I felt that I was giving us additional time to take another look at it,” he said.
And the new staff report does directly address two major points that concerned the Council on July 24.
“A smoking ban would not prohibit medicinal use of marijuana because it can be consumed in forms that do not create second-hand smoke, such as being cooked into foods,” staff wrote, but smoking marijuana would be treated the same as smoking tobacco under the ordinance.
As for condo owners, staff said that they would be beholden to the same standards as renters, but that enforcement would likely be left up to the homeowners associations that oversee the condo buildings.
If there is a full dais Tuesday, the ordinance is likely to pass, since only Council members Kevin McKeown and Pam O'Connor have voted consistently against the ordinance.
Though McKeown has said that he is “prepared to vote for making all future tenancies non-smoking,” he has concerns over the ordinance's “designate and disclose” clause, which he said could lead to tenant harassment.
O'Day, who has supported the ordinance at both meetings felt that renters' rights and what he considers to be a public health issue are not at odds.
“I have worked with a group of folks who have been long time public health champions for renters as well as leaders in our renters' rights community.”
Holbrook, who voted for the ordinance, wasn't thrilled that the ordinance was being brought back.
“We're going to go through a whole hearing again,” he said. “Everyone is going to testify again.”
“I hope people who read this will know that I haven't forgotten their testimony from last time,” he said.