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Residential Smoking Ban Explained:

Santa Monica’s smoking ban covering “common areas” in multi-unit residential buildings becomes effective on Thursday, February 26, and the City Attorney’s office last week unveiled a new web page that explains the new

The new web page also has printable forms that landlords, tenants, and condominium homeowner associations (HOAs) can use for posting signs and giving required notices.

Under the new law, tenants cannot be evicted for smoking in violation of the ordinance.  Instead, offenders are subject to a civil suit for damages in small claims court.  These provisions were designed to allay the fears of some that the smoking ban might be used by landlords to evade rent control restrictions, according to Deputy City Attorney Adam Radinsky.

Among the explanations offered on the new web site:

• “Common areas” are indoor and outdoor locations that are accessible and usable by occupants of more than one unit, including walkways, common cooking areas, outdoor dining areas, shared patios, play areas, swimming pools, gardens, and parking lots.

• Smoking is permitted in all locations that are used solely by one unit – the inside of all residential units as well as private patios and balconies.

• Building owners and condominium HOAs are required to (1) give notice of the law to all tenants and (2) post signs in common areas to inform users about the law.

• Owners have the option of designating outdoor smoking areas, provided that such areas: (1) are at least 20 feet from any indoor area or play area; (2) have a clearly marked perimeter; (3) are clearly marked with signs; and (4) are less than 1/4 of the total outdoor area of the property.

• The main way the law will be enforced is by people informing each other of the law.  If that fails, the next step is to deliver a letter to the tenant who is smoking.  If a smoker ignores a written request to follow the law, any person can bring a case in small claims court.

• Smokers are liable for a minimum damages award of $100 for the first violation. The amount goes up to $200 and $500 for subsequent violations within one year.The full text of the new law is set forth at Santa Monica Municipal Code Section 4.44.040.

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