Q: I have noticed there are many more police officers in the Downtown since Thanksgiving weekend, especially on the Third Street Promenade. Are there any concerns I need to worry about?

A: Unfortunately, the holidays bring increased property crimes, especially in Downtown where there is tourism, shopping and bags left in cars in the parking structures. This makes for easy targets for criminals. To minimize the likelihood of this in Santa Monica, the police department is being proactive. You will notice more officers in the area as a preventative measure, and to create a safe and joyful experience for the thousands of visitors to Downtown this holiday season. The police department is working closely with business leaders and local merchants in ensuring that we are doing everything we can to curtail crime at every level before it happens. Our goal is to prevent the crimes before they occur so we can spend more time in the field providing the services you are accustomed to and deserve.

We are also working with the Bayside District ambassadors to try and remind our visitors to be diligent in preventing themselves from becoming victims of crime. The biggest issue we are experiencing is theft from automobiles. Please remember to always lock your car and to not leave anything of value in plain view on the dashboard or on the seats of your car. It is rare for a car to be broken into when there is nothing visible to be taken in the first place. Also, if you have a bicycle, please secure your bicycles with a quality lock. Many of the stolen bicycles reported were secured with a small chain, a cable-type lock or not locked at all. We strongly recommend a U-type lock be used instead. We cannot guarantee your bike will not be stolen with that type of lock, however, it is very rare for one to be stolen when secured in that manner. Furthermore, please do not forget to register your bicycle with City Hall. It is easy to do, it is required by local law, and it helps you and the police in recovery efforts should your bicycle be stolen. For further information, visit ww01.smgov.net/finance/licenses/bikelic.htm

Lastly, if you see anything or anyone acting suspicious, please do not hesitate to call our dispatch at (310)458-8491. You may also contact one of the many police officers or ambassadors in Downtown to let them know as well.

Q: As a smoker I wanted to know about the new law restricting where I can smoke in and around my apartment.

A: Continuing the effort to help alleviate the effects of secondhand smoke throughout the city, beginning Sept. 9, 2010, City Hall put into effect restrictions as to where someone may smoke in multi-unit residential properties, like apartments and condos. In addition to the existing restriction of smoking in all common areas accessible by more than one unit, it is now prohibited to smoke on private patios, porches, decks and balconies within a 25-foot radius of all doors, windows and vents of your neighbors.

As of Dec. 1, 2010, building owners and home owner associations needed to have posted at least one sign in a common area notifying the residents of the new law as well as give notice to all tenants that are affected by the law. For more information, visit smconsumer.org.

The way this portion of the law is enforced is by people working together and informing each other of the law. We recommend that all tenants try to keep this as friendly and low-key as possible. If that fails, the next step is to deliver a letter to the tenant who is smoking. (A sample letter can be found at smconsumer.org.) Typically, as the word spreads and people become more familiar with smoking laws, compliance is extremely high. If a smoker ignores a written request to follow the law, any person can bring a case against that person into small claims court by filing a civil complaint. If found guilty, smokers are liable for a minimum damages award of $100 for the first violation with subsequent fines going to $200 and $500 within one year.

The areas that are enforced by the police department include those areas accessible by the public, such as businesses, places of worship and city buildings. Instead of the 25-foot restriction in multi-unit dwellings, smokers are prohibited from smoking within 20 feet of any open door or window of any open business or public facility. Other areas that are prohibited and enforced by the police are; the Third Street Promenade, Farmer’s Markets, public parks, public beaches, property of any public library, outdoor dining areas, the Santa Monica Pier, and any outdoor service areas such as bus benches, ATM lines or movie theater lines.

Neighborhood Resource Officer Jeff Glaser (Beat 3: Downtown, including the promenade) can be reached at (424) 200-0683 or jeffrey.glaser@smgov.net.

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