Over the past few years, Santa Monica has been increasing its ban on smoking in public spaces and on July 25 that ban went another step further when the City Council requested that City staff draft an ordinance to ban smoking on the Third Street Promenade, the Farmers’ Markets, in outdoor dining and service areas and within 20 feet of entrances or windows open to the public.
The Council’s action was a response to the June 25 report from the Surgeon General, highlighted by City staff, that stated there is “no risk-free level of secondhand smoke,” and it causes coronary heart disease, lung cancer and premature death in adults and children. Therefore, the Surgeon General recommended, “Non-smokers need protection through restriction of smoking in public spaces and work spaces.”
Smoking was banned in City parks in 2003 and on City beaches, the Pier and at government service waiting areas in 2004. Councilmember Richard Bloom pointed out, “At the same time that we’ve been incrementally legislating on secondhand smoke, the evidence has been pouring in…building the case against secondhand smoke.”
Councilwoman Pam O’Connor, a non-smoker, cast the only vote against the expanded ban. In her view, if “it’s a stated public policy of the State of California to end smoking among Californians, [then] let the state legislature ban tobacco. We’re criminalizing people who smoke when it’s a legal substance.”
All of the members of the public who spoke – which included a large number of representatives from health organizations – were in favor of the ban except for Wes Hooker, the owner of the Third Street Promenade restaurant Laconda del Lago. Hooker reminded the Council about the high rents on the Promenade, which would be harder to meet if the ban causes him to lose “even a small segment of my client base.” He suggested that the Council support “physically separate outdoor patios into separate zones” for smokers and non-smokers. He was also concerned that the ban would not go over well with many tourists.
According to City staff, implementing the expanded ban will have significant signage costs. These costs, however, can be funded by resources from the state and county.
Councilmembers also placed two measures on November’s ballot One measure will remove department head positions from the classified service, amend the advisory roles of City boards and commissions related to department head appointments and modify positions in the City Clerk’s office.
The other measure is a Clean Beaches and Ocean Parcel Tax, which would be used to implement and finance a portion of the City’s Watershed Management Plan to protect the health and cleanliness of Santa Monica Bay. The tax would be $84 per single family home and include exemptions for low-income property owners and renters.
The request by Councilmember Kevin McKeown to have a report to the Council from the City’s youth anti-violence program coordinator, and possibly take additional steps at their August 8 meeting, was not agreed to by his colleagues. However, they did request the City to continue their work on prevention, intervention and enforcement with their institutional partners such as the School District, Santa Monica College and the Pico Youth and Family Center.