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Stricter smoking ban closer in Menlo Park

 

Menlo Park finally crept a step closer to expanding its smoking ordinance. After debating a few tweaks to the language and grilling the city attorney on how the ordinance would be enforced, the City Council voted 5-0 at its Sept. 14 meeting to introduce the new regulations.

The ordinance will return to the council for a second hearing before becoming law, and then go into effect 60 days after it's approved again, giving residents plenty of time to see where and how they can blow smoke in Menlo Park.

City Attorney Bill McClure walked the council through major changes to the ordinance, which will ban smoking in outdoor areas like Café Barrone's patio unless the business owner chooses to set aside a designated, unenclosed space for smokers.

The burden will be on the owners to put up signs allowing smoking, McClure said, otherwise the assumption should be that smoking is prohibited.

While residents can still smoke within their own apartment, or while walking in the street, common use areas of multi-unit housing will become smoke-free zones.

McClure explained that those violating the ordinance could be subject to fines and code enforcement action.

Not all was smooth sailing during the discussion. Council members Kelly Fergusson and Andy Cohen voted to delete the word "adversely" from a new clause that allows one resident to sue another if "adversely impacted" by their secondhand smoke, on grounds that a judge should decide what sort of impact the exposure had.

Council member John Boyle resisted the change. "They once got a whiff of someone's smoke, and now they want to sue them. Do we really want to encourage that behavior?" he asked. Colleague Heyward Robinson also voted against the deletion.

"Adversely" survived the challenge, remaining after a 2-2-1 vote with Mayor Rich Cline abstaining for lack of strong feelings about the word one way or another.

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by This is good
a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 15, 2010 at 12:47 pm

Smoking is unhealthy and others should not have to breathe it. Remember the days where people smoked on airplanes? I pity the person who has to enforce the ordinance.


Like this comment
Posted by Koa
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 15, 2010 at 3:08 pm

What about people who smoke in their own homes and then go out in public? Some of the smoke smell might still cling to them and infringe on my well-being. Is this legally actionable? Maybe we can develop a registry of tobacco smokers and make them wear some kind of identifying mark so we know who it is safe to talk to or interact with. Pray for us.


Like this comment
Posted by Koa
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 15, 2010 at 3:08 pm

What about people who smoke in their own homes and then go out in public? Some of the smoke smell might still cling to them and infringe on my well-being. Is this legally actionable? Maybe we can develop a registry of tobacco smokers and make them wear some kind of identifying mark so we know who it is safe to talk to or interact with. Pray for us.


Like this comment
Posted by second hand smoke
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 15, 2010 at 3:23 pm

Second hand smoke is an important health issue.


Like this comment
Posted by Jo Pot....
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 15, 2010 at 5:06 pm

How would you prove that you are affected by cigarette smoke from car exhaust and cooking? It has been proven that pollution is everywhere from many sources...pizza burning ovens in restaurants being among the worse polluters. And a pipe from the exhaust into your car will kill you instantly. We should ban alcohol..that infringes on others more than smoke...a drunk driver can kill you instantly.


Like this comment
Posted by WarOnSmoking
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 15, 2010 at 6:03 pm

I don't smoke, and I hate breathing second hand smoke in enclosed places, but this is getting ridiculous! I'd rather someone smoke outside in a park than inside their home where children and other members of their household might have to suffer from it. Enforcing regulations like this costs real money, and I can't believe MP has no higher priorities. What if the police miss an important crime while they are busy dealing with a dispute between neighbors over smoking in a park or common yard area?


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Mom
a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 16, 2010 at 1:51 pm

"I can't believe MP has no higher priorities"

Maybe protecting children's health in public places not a priority on your side of the creek, but we'll stand up for our kids over here.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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