Ordinance Could Result in Evictions for Smokers

County task force wants to ban smoking in most apartment complexes

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Merkushev Vasiliy, Shutterstock

    Smokers in San Diego apartments may have to pack up before they light up if one anti-smoking ordinance gains the favor of city councilmembers.

    The ordinance targets apartment complexes with four or more units. It will give landlords a bit more teeth in enforcing state and federal smoking laws.

    A committee decided not to vote on the ordinance wednesday evening, instead sending it to a city attorney for evaluation.

    Current state law gives the landlord the option to ban smoking from their buildings. This ordinance would ban it regardless of the landlord’s preferences.

    In addition, federal laws forbid smoking inside enclosed workplaces, playgrounds and within 20 feet of entrances and exits of public buildings.

    If a smoker does light up in a complex, the ordinance would make that person a “private nuisance,” and he or she could be punished or evicted. 

    However ridding the community of second-hand smoke is not a one-size-fits-all method, said Alan Pentico, executive director of the San Diego County Apartment Association (SDCAA).

    SDCAA and the California Apartment Association oppose this ordinance because it takes away a landlords’ choice to ban smoking.

    It also may have a negative impact on the lower-income community, Pentico said.

    “The more affluent you are, the less likely you are to be a smoker,” he said. “So this impacts certain parts of the community. For them, it may be easier to move than to quit smoking, but that involves extra expenses."

    A county task force filed the ordinance, and asked for a legal opinion from City Attorney Jan Goldsmith.

    “Having sat on the task force, I know that they want to deal with second-hand smoking and in the community,” Pentico said. “But this targets the rental house sector. They’re talking about intruding people’s homes.”

    Wednesday, the City’s Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee will vote on the ordinance. If the ordinance is passed, the rules will go into effect within 120 days. The committee may move the ordinance along to council though.

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