Belmont residents could wake up tomorrow to the promise — or curse, depending on how you look at it — of an essentially smoke-free city. A landmark ordinance regulating secondhand smoke in the city will go into effect in 30 days if adopted on a second reading at tonight's Belmont City Council meeting.
The ordinance, introduced by the City Council on Sept. 11 and then approved with a few wording changes at its Sept. 25 meeting, would declare secondhand smoke a public nuisance and would extend the city's current smoking ban to include multi-unit, multi-story residences.
Though Belmont and some other California cities already restrict smoking in multi-unit common areas, Belmont would be the first city to extend secondhand smoke regulation to the inside of individual apartment units.
Smoking would still be allowed in single-family homes and their yards, and units and yards in apartment buildings, condominiums and townhouses that do not share any common floors or ceilings with other units.
The ban for multi-unit apartment buildings would not take effect for an additional 14 months after the ordinance takes effect, so that one-year lease agreements would be unaffected.
Smoking would be permitted only in designated outdoor areas of multi-unit housing. Additionally, smoking would not be allowed in indoor and outdoor workplaces, or in parks, stadiums, sports fields, trails and outdoor shopping areas.
Smoking on city streets and sidewalks would be permitted under the proposed ordinance, except in the location of city-sponsored events or in close proximity to prohibited areas.
City officials have said that enforcement of the smoking ban will be complaint-driven.
The issue was first brought to the attention of the Belmont City Council last July, when residents at a senior housing complex complained of complications arising from secondhand smoke in their apartments.
— Examiner staff and Bay City News contributed to this report