Alameda City Council members are scheduled for a final vote Nov. 15 on a revised version of tough new smoking regulations for the city's workplaces, multi-unit housing and public spaces.
The meeting will include both a public hearing on the issue and the second (final) reading of the ordinance.
The proposed ordinance incorporates several changes that the council requested during . They include:
• Removing language specifically pertaining to off-street outdoor patios at bars and taverns, thereby maintaining the status quo under state law.
In practice, this change would allow smoking to continue in the back patios of taverns such as and on Park Street.
• Prohibiting smoking in all units of common-interest complexes (such as condominiums), including balconies and porches. The original version of the proposed ordinance banned smoking in new units but not existing ones.
"The council heard loud and clear from the public who spoke up or submitted comments that they wanted condos included,” Assistant City Manager Lisa Goldman said after the Nov. 1 meeting.
She noted that condominiums can set up community smoking areas if those areas meet the standards outlined in the ordinance.
• Adding a nuisance provision to the housing section of the ordinance.
According to a staff report, "A nuisance declaration makes it easier for an individual to seek the redress of grievances through the civil court system, because a nuisance declaration lessens the burden of proof for an individual seeking private civil action."
"In the housing context, declaring secondhand smoke a nuisance is helpful because it eliminates the need to prove that some particular level of exposure has occurred and then to prove that such exposure is an unjustified intrusion or hazard."
• Deleting electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) from the definition of smoking.
The provisions related to workplace smoking and smoking in outdoor public places would become effective 30 days after adoption of the ordinance (Dec. 15, 2011, if the council approves the ordinance at its Nov. 15 meeting).
Those related to smoking in rental complexes and common interest complexes would be phased in more gradually, with an implementation date of Jan. 1, 2013, according to the staff report.
The council also asked city staff to research whether smoking could be banned on public beaches in Alameda. If that is found to be feasible, it could be added as an amendment to the ordinance in the future.
Enforcement of the ordinance would be "complaint driven," Goldman said.
"The police are going to enforce it, but this will not their top priority," she said. "If they receive a call they will respond … their goal is to mediate and explain what the laws are.”
The City of Alameda website now has a new Secondhand Smoke Ordinance page that includes a summary of the ordinance and links to the proposed ordinance, staff reports and other items.
It also links to the City Zoning Map. The proposed ordinance bans smoking on commercial-area sidewalks, which are defined as public sidewalks in downtown shopping and business areas designated with a “C” prefix on the map.
Public comments on the proposed ordinance may be sent to Terri Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org.