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An ordinance banning smoking in multi-unit residences failed to muster enough votes in its second reading on Tuesday, July 24.
An ordinance banning smoking in multi-unit residences failed to muster enough votes in its second reading on Tuesday, July 24.

News, City Council, Santa Monica

Smoking Ban In Santa Monica Apartments, Condos Stalls In Second Reading

Posted Jul. 25, 2012, 2:18 am

Parimal M. Rohit / Staff Writer

An ordinance up for second reading is usually a quick unchallenged vote away from becoming the law in Santa Monica. A virtual rubber stamp in the deliberation process, proposed laws almost never fizzle when returning back to council members two weeks after it was approved to go forward.

However, in perhaps what is one of the rarest occurrences in Santa Monica governance, an ordinance banning smoking in multi-unit residences failed to muster enough votes in its second reading Tuesday night (July 24).

Two weeks ago, council members approved a proposed ordinance that would have banned new tenants moving into an apartment or condominium complex from smoking. The proposed ordinance, if it had passed, also would have required all existing residential units in multi-unit properties be designated as either smoking or non-smoking, and that the smoking status of units be disclosed in certain ways.

The 4-2 vote against the proposed ordinance made sure it never made it past second reading. Accordingly, council members will now consider tweaking the proposed ordinance and approve an enhanced smoking ban at a later date.

Council members had apparently received several concerns from the community since the proposed ordinance’s first reading.

Mayor Richard Bloom said there needed to be a greater discussion of how the proposed smoking ban would affect the use of medical marijuana.

“I think the council and the ultimate decision-making will benefit from further discussion regarding the issue of medical marijuana,” Bloom said, adding more input from public and apartment/condominium owners, landlord groups, and others would greatly enhance how the proposed smoking ban would ultimately take shape.

Council member Bob Holbrook said he received threatening emails accusing him of being a Nazi or a Hitler disciple but said he truly believed a smoking ban was in the best interest of Santa Monica’s residents.

“I honestly and truly believe that sometimes you have to make … really tough decisions based upon what you think is best for the people of Santa Monica. I still think it’s best that we adopt this non-smoking ordinance,” Holbrook said. “It’s … time that we made homes and living spaces safe for people. They shouldn’t be subjected to smoke.”

Holbrook added he hoped a non-smoking ordinance, which he supported as a matter of public health, might motivate some people to stop lighting up cigarettes at all.

Council member Kevin McKeown, who did not vote July 10 in favor of the proposed ordinance, said one of his key issues with the potential law prohibiting smoking in multi-unit residences is the designate-and-disclose requirement.

Under the proposed law, all landlords of multi-unit residences in Santa Monica must designate with apartment or condominium units have residents who smoke, then disclose those units to potential new tenants. McKeown stated the designate-and-disclose requirement would probably not benefit existing tenants.

“That’s not going to help anyone who currently has a smoking neighbor. That’s only going to help people moving into Santa Monica in the future to know whether there might be a smoker in the building,” McKeown said. “I continue to think that the side effect of that particular cure may be worse than the disease.”

Council members Terry O’Day and Holbrook were the only two votes in favor of passing the proposed ordinance in second reading.

The council voted 5-1 (Pam O’Connor in dissent) to direct staff to again present its report on the proposed smoking ban at a future meeting.

City Hall began regulating smoking in residential areas in 2009, when the council approved an ordinance that prohibited smokers from lighting up in the common area spaces of an apartment complex or condominium. As part of the ban, secondhand smoke victims were permitted to sue smokers.

In 2011, another approved ordinance had banned smoking in any new hotel to be constructed within Santa Monica.

Council member Bobby Shriver was not present at the July 24 meeting.

Post a comment


Jul. 25, 2012, 3:53:19 am

Xicano Power said...

What's the real reason ? There has to be a propaganda somewhere in this, the City sees something in all of this come now it's the city of SM. . . Besides the matter, smoking does cause Cancer but all you have to do is walk outside your front door people and you can get Cancer ! Please don't pick on the Smokers pick on the Bars Alcoholics, after a good night of drinking get in there cars and kill people ! Ban the Bars' Oop's they make good tax dollars'

Jul. 25, 2012, 2:46:36 am

laurie frank said...

All these council members do is obsess on smoking. This is not governance, ban guns not cigarettes

Jul. 25, 2012, 2:49:23 am

Michele said...

Although I am not a smoker (anymore) getting lectures about what's good for me from obese people is ironic!

Jul. 25, 2012, 2:49:58 am

xboomer said...

I still say let the owner of the building decide. If the owner wants the building to be a smoking building he should have that right. If he wants it to be smoke free, then let him make that decision.

Jul. 25, 2012, 3:06:22 am

Max Debber said...

The Council needs to consider the definition of property rights. Government has no business interfering with these rights and those of individuals based on what they "deem" is healthy. This is a huge overeach.

Jul. 25, 2012, 3:16:38 am

Ms Mari said...

Absolutely ridiculous – adding any requirement that forces landlords to identify units with smoking residents creates a potentially discriminatory and hostile environment. So when the smoking tenant gets harassed by NEW tenants, will the landlord allow them to break lease and move without penalty? This could potentially create extra administrative work for landlords and privacy concerns for tenants. I agree – let the landlord decide, they’re paying the property taxes in the end!

Jul. 25, 2012, 3:36:32 am

mlind said...

The SM City Council are ruining this city by letting it get built up like New York City, and now telling people what they can do in the privacy of their homes. Let's get rid of all of them! Vote them out of office!

Jul. 25, 2012, 3:56:32 am

wolflen said...

its not that the city council is banning anything..we let for laurie franks comment: All these council members do is obsess on smoking. This is not governance, ban guns not cigarettes... so you would let the second amendment "go up in smoke" so to speak...

Jul. 25, 2012, 4:20:14 am

Ron Di Costanzo said...

Let's stipulate that smoking is a vile habit to be discouraged in almost all ways. Then may we stipulate that our house is ours - not Santa Monica's - to do as we will when what we do there is legal. Further, if I own a home I should have the same rights as .another home owner. So ... why should my home - a condo or townhouse which shares no ventilation - be treated differently than the houses of Shriver (not present, but who made his position clear on 7/24 on KPCC) or Holbrook? And, yes, this is a rhetorical question. Could you, ladies and gents, instead, do the citizens' business and deal with the traffic your chronic approval of new - and aesthetically unattractive - buildings has worsened?

Jul. 25, 2012, 4:50:04 am

CLE said...

Hollbrook and O'Day are acknowledging scientific facts by doing all they can to protect non-smoking tenants from tenants who smoke inside their units. 3 smoldering cigarettes on an ashtray emit more toxins in the air than a 2-liter engine idling for the same period of time. Knowing that at about 30% of the air in one's unit is shared with neighboring unit, would you like to live next to a neighbor with his/her 2-liter engine running every 20 minutes for 10 hours a day? If you would, then you can be one of the people who chose to live next door to those "smoking/undesignated" units. Those who do not, can live next door to those designated "non-smoking" units. It's still legal to smoke cigarettes if this ordinance passes. You just would need to take it to the alley or sidewalk.. That's where the 2-liter engines are, and that's also the appropriate place for a burning cigarette.

Jul. 25, 2012, 9:47:47 am

Daniel said...

Ms Mari said... "adding any requirement that forces landlords to identify units with smoking residents creates a potentially discriminatory and hostile environment." You've got to be joking! The neighbor tenants constantly are creating the potentially discriminatory and hostile environment. I'm tired of the smoking neighbors moving into our non-smoking building and then lying, saying they don't smoke.

Jul. 25, 2012, 6:28:25 pm

Matt Horns said...

Barbecues spew thousands of times more "second hand smoke" than cigarettes in Santa Monica. Gas-powered trimmers and lawn mowers spew thousands of times more "second hand smoke" than cigarettes in Santa Monica. Cars and trucks spew millions of times more "second hand smoke" than cigarettes in Santa Monica. Politicians spew more hot air than any of them.

Jul. 26, 2012, 8:21:18 am

Carlos J. Negron said...

Little by little the individual right to choose is being taken away under the guise that it will be of benefit. What one does within the walls of one's habitat is personal to the individual and no restrictions should be put. The quote of Benjamin Franklin with, some changes ,is applicable when he said "those who would give up their liberties for a temporary security are worthy of none. It is interesting that slowly we are undoing Mother Nature's anti-body response. The ability of the human body to protect itself from invasion is evident. Think about and maybe the realization will kick in.

Jul. 26, 2012, 4:02:22 pm

Carrie said...

According to CA government at "Proponents of smokers’ rights often claim that smoking falls within the fundamental right to privacy, by arguing that the act of smoking is an individual and private act that government cannot invade. Courts consistently reject this argument. The privacy interest protected by the U.S. Constitution includes only marriage, contraception, family relationships, and the rearing and educating of children.3 Very few private acts by individuals qualify as fundamental privacy interests, and smoking is not one of them." There are now a total of 18 housing authorities in CA with no smoking policies.

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