CITY HALL – In a drastic turn, the City Council approved a law Tuesday night that would prohibit smoking for new tenants in multi-unit housing and force existing residents to designate their apartments and condominiums smoking or lose the right to light up in their homes at all.

The ordinance also requires that staff return to the City Council with a drop dead date after which every unit in Santa Monica would be declared non-smoking.

That represented a major departure from the staff recommendation which would have required people to designate their units as non-smoking. Those who didn’t respond to the request would not lose their right to smoke.

The staff report did not contemplate a deadline by which all apartments and condominiums would convert to non-smoking units.

In a rare turn of events, Councilmembers Kevin McKeown and Pam O’Connor found themselves on the same side of the issue, pushing against the more-restrictive ordinance put forward by their colleagues.

McKeown was concerned with the “designate and disclose” provision. Not only would residents have to declare their apartments smoking or non-smoking, that information would be given to every resident in the building.

It is the equivalent to tacking a “big, yellow S” on a smoker’s door, he said.

“I am not comfortable with using secondhand smoke to create second class citizens,” McKeown said.

Councilmember Bobby Shriver was having none of it.

“I recognize we come from a ‘protect the tenancies’ culture, that we all affirm, but I’m tired of hearing that we need to protect the tenancies of the chain smokers,” Shriver said.

The ordinance passed in the absence of Mayor Pro Tem Gleam Davis, who has expressed reservations in the past on limiting tenants’ ability to smoke in their units.

It will come back for second reading at a future council meeting.

Parking

Employees on Main Street won a victory when the council voted to reduce monthly parking costs in an attempt to get them out of neighborhoods and business districts.

The original proposal was part of a package that would change on-street and structure parking costs throughout the city, and would have charged Main Street employees $27 per month to park at one of the beach parking lots.

City Councilmember Bob Holbrook amended the proposal to charge only $20 in an attempt to make it more appealing for employees to park further from their work to free up parking for Main Street customers and keep employees from parking in the neighborhoods.

Councilmember McKeown was the sole no vote on the motion, reflecting his concern that making parking less expensive for employees would only encourage them to drive to work, worsening traffic in the city.

O’Connor and Davis were not present for the item.

ashley@smdp.com

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