The Petaluma City Council approved revisions to its smoking ordinance Monday night, making it illegal to smoke in all hotels and motels, multi-family housing complexes, including condominiums, and in certain outdoor spaces such as shared courtyards, balconies, bus stops and downtown sidewalks.
The new laws apply to all tobacco products and medical marijuana.
Supporters of the smoking ban showed up in droves to the council chambers and expressed their support of the regulations.
"This ordinance is about protecting people from secondhand smoke, not about the 10 percent or fewer smokers we have in Petaluma," said Bob Curry, co-chair of the Petaluma Coalition on Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs. "Everybody wins with this ordinance."
The ordinance the Police Department crafted originally called for smoking bans in publicly shared spaces, like sidewalks, outdoor balconies and courtyards, inside any multi-family housing unit with shared walls within city limits — including on personal balconies extending from such residences — and an 80 percent smoke-free requirement for hotels and motels as well.
The city council went one step further and voted to make all temporary lodging facilities 100 percent smoke-free, something Police Chief Patrick Williams said he felt most hotels in the city would agree to.
Though no one showed up to challenge the new restrictions, Councilmember Chris Albertson pointed out that banning smoking inside condominiums could frustrate owners, a point echoed in a letter submitted to the council by Stephen Liebling of the North Bay Association of Realtors.
"In effect, this could mean the exclusion of smokers from purchasing condos in the City of Petaluma," Liebling wrote.
After Pam Granger of the American Lung Association pointed out that smokers are not a protected class of citizens and City Attorney Eric Danly assured the council that the ban was legally sound, Albertson and the other councilmembers supported the blanket ban for multi-unit housing.
Curry added that many other communities have passed bans on condominium complexes without major impacts.
The council passed the stricter smoking laws unanimously. Newly constructed complexes will have until Aug. 1, 2013 to comply with the law, while existing units and hotels will be given until January 1, 2014.
(Editor's note: This story has been changed from the version that appeared in print on Dec. 6 to state that medical marijuana is part of the new smoking bans.)
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