SM PIER — Smoking on the Santa Monica Pier, which for several years has been confined to eight designated areas, is soon to be banned outright on the 100-year-old landmark.

The City Council this week unanimously agreed that discarded cigarettes pose a fire risk to the pier and voted to eliminate the smoking areas.

“I think it’s absolutely the right thing to do to make sure that we protect and preserve the pier,” said Ben Franz-Knight, executive director of the Pier Restoration Corp.

Smoking is also banned on Santa Monica beaches, in parks and outdoor dining areas, at bus stops and on the Third Street Promenade. The council also recently banned smoking on balconies and patios at multi-family dwellings.

After the pier ban takes effect, the closest area to the pier where smoking will be allowed will be Ocean Front Walk.

The proposal to eliminate the smoking areas came to the council after a couple of fires on the west end of the pier gave Santa Monica officials a scare. The fires broke out after discarded cigarette buts smoldered in the pier’s wooden floor boards, Franz-Knight said.

On April 30, a fire caused about 30 square feet of damage to the pier, and a second fire on May 11 caused roughly 50 square feet of damage, according to a City Hall report.

Although the timber deck boards and piles are treated with fire-resistant coatings, a fire hazard exists when a cigarette falls in between the wooden deck boards igniting the dust and debris caught between and under the planks, according to City Hall.

“The dust and debris can act as kindling for a fire to begin underneath the boards, visible above the deck only upon the fire growing larger,” a city staff report stated. “Fortunately, the two recent fires were caught and extinguished before significant property damage was sustained, but it is a reminder that fire caused by smoking is a threat that could have a devastating impact on the pier and on public safety.”

Franz-Knight on Tuesday told the council it would cost $57 million to re-build the structure should it burn.

“It’s a tremendously valuable community treasure,” he said.

The ban is expected to take effect this fall. City Hall will spend about $5,000 on new signs and educational materials to spread the word about the ban.

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