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Glendale considers clamping down further on smoking

May 15, 2013
  • Glendale is considering a number of new smoking restrictions. Above, a cigarette collection box on Brand Boulevard in downtown.
Glendale is considering a number of new smoking restrictions.… (File photo )

Being a smoker in Glendale could get a lot more restrictive in the coming months after officials this week proposed a number of new laws to limit the reach of second-hand smoke.

The City Council on Tuesday moved to ban smoking in all new apartment and condominium units, give individuals the right to sue others who break smoking rules and increase the distance between smokers and non-smokers in outdoor dining areas.

Since 2008, Glendale has implemented a variety of smoking bans, from common areas to private balconies and patios in multi-unit buildings. Many wide-sweeping prohibitions have taken effect, but there have also been tweaks to the rules, making smoking restrictions a recurring topic of discussion at City Hall.

The proposed ban on smoking in new condo and apartment developments may impact roughly 2,000 new units springing up in downtown. The developments could apply for an outdoor smoking permit, but they’d have to pay about $200 in addition to $50 annually as a registration fee and set up the space in a way approved by city officials.

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“We got to try to make an effort,” said Mayor Dave Weaver.

The proposal enjoyed unanimous support on the dais, but council members declined to extend the restrictions to existing multi-unit development — similar to what’s been done in cities like Pasadena — saying it would be too difficult to enforce.

In fact, the ability of the city to enforce any new anti-smoking rule would be a challenge, officials said.

“Folks are going to smoke,” said City Manager Scott Ochoa in asking council members to temper their expectations. “You’re not going to get 100% of everyone to do everything that you want.”

The city’s already had problems enforcing existing restrictions. The bulk of enforcement is complaint-driven, but often a police or code enforcement officer doesn’t arrive on scene to catch the smoker in the act, which is needed to issue a violation.

Enter the latest proposal: allow those who catch smokers breaking the law to sue the violator.

“It seems to me that this is maybe the only way that we can get compliance with these codes,” said Councilwoman Laura Friedman, who introduced the idea.

If found guilty, violators could be fined $250 for every day they violate the law, according to a city report, although they would first have to violate the law twice and receive a written notice before being sued.

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