CITY HALL — Lighting up cigarettes in common areas of multi-unit residences is now prohibited.

The council adopted on second reading an ordinance to ban tobacco in common areas of apartments and condominium complexes, adding to a growing list of anti-smoking laws in the city.

Ordinances go through a two-step process before they are formally adopted, including the first reading when community input is permitted, and the second reading when the law is ratified.

Renters have complained about the impacts of living with neighbors who smoke, some claiming they have developed respiratory illnesses.

The ordinance addresses concerns that landlords would use it to evict offending renters, specifically stating that it cannot be used as grounds to terminate tenancy and clarifying that smoking in common areas shall not be considered a violation of law under a lease. It also establishes a method through which residents could challenge a neighbor who smokes in a common area, allowing them to seek damages of at least $100 in Small Claims Court.

The minimum damages increases to $200 for a second violation that is committed within one year, and to $500 for the third offense within the same period.

Some residents and property owners have expressed concerns about the ordinance, believing it will lead to court battles between neighbors.

The council also extended an interim ordinance that requires any housing project in excess of 50 units to obtain a development review permit.

The ordinance applies to projects that were filed on or after April 24, 2007.

Both ordinances are in effect 30 days from adoption.

melodyh@smdp.com

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