News - September 8, 2010

Menlo Park smoking ban: it's back

by Sandy Brundage

For all those holding their breath until Menlo Park's newest smoking ban gets approved, the wait is almost over. The City Council will consider the ordinance at its next meeting, on Sept. 14.

A staff report circulated on Sept. 2 highlighted a few revisions made since the city last considered the ordinance in March.

The list of "no smoking" zones expands to the common areas of apartments and other shared multi-unit housing, including condominiums owned by the occupants.

According to the new language of the ordinance, landlords can't be held liable for a tenant smoking in a rented apartment if secondhand smoke harms another resident. But the tenant can now sue the other resident if "adversely impacted" by their smoking.

The ordinance would still ban smoking in most public areas, such as bus stops, parks, and ticket lines.

However, the revised wording allows smokers to light up on sidewalks, or other unenclosed spaces like streets or open outdoor areas set aside for that purpose by restaurants and tobacco retailers.

Barbara Franklin, who pushed the council for a new ordinance after smelling a neighbor's smoke while inside her own condo, asked council members on Aug. 31 when the ordinance would return to the agenda. "September 14?" she said. "Then on September 14 I shall return."

If the City Council approves the ordinance, it would go into effect 30 days later.

Go to (case-sensitive) to see the staff report.


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