Proposal would require landlords to designate non-smoking apartments

Mike Koozmin/The S.F. ExaminerLight up: Chris Campbell smokes in his Mission apartment. A proposed law would require property owners to designate their apartments as smoking or nonsmoking.

Although they often butt heads, landlords and tenant advocates have joined forces in support of a proposed new ordinance that apartment owners believe could increase the supply of smoke-free rental housing in The City.

Supervisor Eric Mar, no stranger to health-conscious lawmaking, has introduced legislation that would make landlords designate their apartment units as smoking or nonsmoking and disclose this information
to tenants and in advertising.

In San Francisco, it is legal to smoke in apartments unless the lease states otherwise. With Mar’s proposed disclosure requirement, observers believe the demand for apartments with no risk of second-hand tobacco smoke could pressure landlords to significantly reduce their supply of smoking units.

And that’s just fine with the San Francisco Apartment Association, which is backing the proposal.

“My guess is, over time, it will lead to smoke-free housing,” said Charley Goss, a spokesman for the San Francisco Apartment Association, which represents rental property owners. “Right now, I think the demand is for nonsmoking.”

Goss said his association would likely support an outright citywide ban on smoking in apartments, since smoking causes landlords all sorts of problems, including increased maintenance costs.

The association and tenant advocates such as the Mission SRO Collaborative are behind the effort, after working on the legislation for the past two years.

Owners of buildings with 50 or fewer units would need to designate their units smoking or nonsmoking by December 2013. Larger buildings would have until December 2014 to do so.

The proposal is part of a nationwide trend in which cities are increasingly strengthening their anti-smoking laws.

In 2009, Belmont banned smoking altogether in apartments. A similar ban passed last month in San Rafael. In April, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed a law requiring that landlords draft and disclose
smoking rules for apartments.

Mar is no stranger to anti-tobacco laws. Two years ago, he introduced successful legislation that expanded nonsmoking areas throughout San Francisco, including in ATM lines, bus stops and common areas of apartment buildings.

His new proposal would not affect existing leases. And the proposal is silent on marijuana smoke.

To become law, the legislation would require approval from the full Board of Supervisors. It could be voted on by a board committee as early as next month.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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