Smoking ordinances at a glance | October 29, 2010 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Cover Story - October 29, 2010

Smoking ordinances at a glance

Santa Clara County

In multi-family dwellings such as condominiums, townhouses and apartments, smoking will be prohibited within buildings. Smoking will be allowed only within designated, well-marked outdoor areas at least 30 feet from any opening, door, window or vent. Violators can be fined $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second offense and $500 for a third offense within a 12-month period. Offenders who violate the law more than three times face a misdemeanor charge.

Landlords are exempt from liability, but citizens may file civil lawsuits against violators. Harassment of persons seeking compliance is prohibited.

The law would take effect 30 days after final passage Nov. 9 for newly built units; for existing units, the law goes into effect in 14 months.

County supervisors signed three ordinances, including a no-smoking law at the county fairgrounds and parks, at motels, hotels and at outdoor shopping malls as well as requirements for tobacco-retailer permits, with several restrictions on products.

Menlo Park

Smoking is prohibited in any public space, park, business, restaurant or place of employment, including private residences licensed as family daycare homes and multi-unit residence common areas. A designated smoking area must be no more than 25 percent of the outdoor area.

Smoking is prohibited within 25 feet of windows, doors and other openings. Retaliation is prohibited. The law does not prohibit smoking within individual apartments or units but landlords can prohibit smoking anywhere on their property. Violations are infractions, punishable by a $50 fine for the first incident in a 12-month period and $100 for each additional incident.

Citizens may bring legal action against violators, but landlords are not liable. The ordinance will take effect Nov. 27.


The law has been in effect since 2007. Smoking is banned in multi-unit residences with a common floor or ceiling and must be at least 20 feet from outdoor areas used primarily by children, including play and swimming areas. Smoking is prohibited 20 feet from any door, window or vent. Up to 10 percent of hotel and motel rooms can be smoking rooms if 90 percent of rooms are designated nonsmoking. Other areas, such as service and ticket lines are also non-smoking.

Designated smoking areas must not be more than 25 percent of the outside property.

A 14-month phase-in from the effective date was implemented. Landlords who meet certain conditions in their lease agreements are not liable for tenants who violate the law. Smoking medical marijuana is permitted as regulated by the California health and safety code.

Violations are infractions and are $100 each. Civil actions are not less than $250 and not more than $1,000. Harassment and intimidation of persons who seek compliance is prohibited.

— Sue Dremann


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