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Proposal to ban smoking in Glendale put on hold

Restrictions on apartments have been in limbo because of developer protest. Council members want to move forward with the measure.

December 23, 2012|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com

A proposed ban on smoking in new apartment buildings has ruffled the feathers of some new developers who say the restrictions will put them at an unfair disadvantage with older properties, but several Glendale City Council members say they still support pressing ahead with the measures.

The council began working through several new smoking rules for restaurants and multifamily housing developments in September. Although changes were made to outdoor dining areas, proposals to limit smoking in apartment complexes were left for further discussion.

They've been put on hold ever since, drawn out by opposition from some developers who contend a proposed ban on smoking in all new apartments gives older units an unfair market advantage.

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“They wanted a level playing field,” City Manager Scott Ochoa said. “That does make sense. If you're putting $70 million into a project, you want to make sure you have every opportunity for success.”

Council members had gravitated toward banning smoking in new units months ago rather than forcing existing tenants to change their habits.

Some new developers weren't too happy about that, so officials have been drafting alternatives for the council to review.

However, several council members said they want to stick with the original proposal, with one taking it a step further and calling for smoke-free sections in existing complexes.

“I'm for no smoking in the new units,” said Mayor Frank Quintero. “That's a done deal as far as I'm concerned.”

Councilwoman Laura Friedman said she'd be open to listening to complaints from the developers, but she was still leaning toward the ban on smoking in new units. She said she also wants to recommend requiring apartments to create smoke-free wings over time as smoking tenants move out, an idea she floated months ago.

“I'd like to do them both at once,” Friedman said. “I would like to move as quickly as we can.”

But Surj Soni, managing partner of Legendary Development, which is building a six-story complex on California and Central Avenues, isn't on the same page.

“If it's applied in a discriminatory fashion, it's going to be a problem,” Soni said.

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