Stricter smoking ban one step closer


Menlo Park 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 to introduce the new regulations at its Sept. 14 meeting.

The ordinance will return to the council for a second reading and council action. If the council approves the ordinance, it will go into effect in 60 days.

City Attorney Bill McClure walked the council through major changes to the ordinance, which will ban smoking in outdoor areas like Cafe Borrone'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, Mr. 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.

Mr. 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 proposed 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.

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Posted by Perfect!
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 15, 2010 at 12:42 pm

This is a PERFECT example of what we are fighting in Menlo Park. John Boyle rightfully resists deleting the word "adversely" because he, and any other normal non-litigious person would agree, that if the council had deleted this word, all types of folks would "come out of the woodwork" and start suing their neighbors, left and right. This of course was brought up by the two very litigious types Ferguson and Cohen, who have never met a new law they didn't like, and love big government and adding ridiculous regulations! THEN to top it off, of course we have Rich Cline, unable to make a darn decision! Classic.

I just hope people are paying attention when they go to the polls this November and in future Novembers!

Like this comment
Posted by Jack
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 15, 2010 at 12:55 pm

I don't have confidence in the public. They re-elected Fergusson for crying out loud! What is wrong with my neighbors?

Like this comment
Posted by Ol' Homeboy
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Sep 15, 2010 at 1:31 pm

How about the council spend equal time banning human flatulence in Menlo Park — specifically during council meetings. I'm sure most residents would concur that we are all "adversely impacted" by "the excessive sense of self importance" (as flatulence is defined by Encarta World Dictionary) that is displayed by our City Council members, time and time again.
How does poor Bill McClure endure the time spent with these numskulls!

Like this comment
Posted by what i saw
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Sep 15, 2010 at 3:05 pm

Bill McClure advised council that the use of the word was irrelevant and had little merit directly to John Boyle, who once again believed he knew more than the lawyer and rejected McClure's comments. Then Kelly took the other side and forced the issue.

Cline followed the attorney's advice and said he did not see the reason to take action.

Don't lie to people and characterize council members in your own favor. It makes you look small and cheap.

Like this comment
Posted by Relevancy
a resident of another community
on Sep 15, 2010 at 6:24 pm

If the word was irrelevant, why include it in the law in the first place? Guess it must've had some meaning.

Like this comment
Posted by choking
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 16, 2010 at 2:50 pm

sidestream smoke is a public health hazard. Calling it a nuisance is a misnomer. It should be banned everywhere except in the case of consenting adults behind closed doors where there are no children or pets. Even then, it adversely affects us all one way or the other. The only councilmember who made sense was Andy Cohen

Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 16, 2010 at 6:52 pm

Sidestream smoke is a hazard only if you are close to it. Otherwise it just smells bad. The further you are from it the more dilute it is and at some point you will be getting more carcinogens from car exhaust and other things in our environment.

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