By Ted AYALA
Smokers may find themselves and their second-hand smoke feeling less welcome in Glendale in the near future.
Tuesday night saw the Glendale City Council push forward with proposals for new laws that would ban smoking in all new and future apartments and condominiums and effectively ban it in common areas throughout residential buildings, even rooftop terraces.
The proposed smoking ordinances would also allow individual parties to take those who violate the ordinances to court and sue for damages.
“Essentially, if we go further tonight, what we’re adding is a ban on smoking in the interior of these units,” said Tim Foy, the city’s assistant director of Planning.
Council, in discussing the proposed ordinances, considered other cities’ smoking bans, including more far-reaching ones in neighboring Pasadena. That city bans smoking outright in all residential units and outdoor dining areas.
“I don’t think Pasadena has become a ghost town because of that,” said Mayor Dave Weaver. “There’s a lot of people over there.”
If enacted into law, the council’s proposals stand to affect thousands of housing units including the Elevé Lofts and Skydeck at 200 E. Broadway, which has been part of the city’s plan to lure younger residents into the city center. That complex will be opening in June of this year.
Reaction from developers with projects looming in the future have been mixed, with some of them expressing fear that the new ordinances may put them at a disadvantage with other more accepting units.
Councilmember Frank Quintero dispelled fears about the ordinance alienating some of the twentysomethings that the new units are seeking to attract.
“Hipsters don’t smoke,” he said. “Maybe hookahs.”
Past ordinances have allowed some wiggle room and Tuesday’s proposals were no different. Future development projects could apply for an outdoor smoking permit so long as they paid up $200 with another annual registration fee of $50. The permitted outdoor smoking space would be set up per the requirements of the city.
Difficulties in enforcement may be a consideration in the council’s decision. The city already faces considerable challenges in enforcement, with widespread smoking and limited resources all but assuring that some offenders will escape the reach of the law. That the ordinance depends on citizen complaints further complicates matters. Police dispatched in response to a complaint may be unable to catch the targeted offender in the act of smoking –if the smoker hasn’t disappeared altogether.
“You’re not going to get 100% of everyone to do everything that you want,” said City Manager Scott Ochoa.
It was that challenge that triggered a proposal to allow citizens to personally sue smokers who are spotted violating the ordinances.
According to a city report, violators could face a fine of $250 for each day they break the law. The fines would not be imposed until the offender in question had been caught violating the law twice and had received a notice informing him of his offense. Smokers who are found guilty in court may also find court fines appended to their judgment.
The ordinance is set to return for a final vote in two weeks.