Windsor moves to snuff out smoking in multifamily buildings

Like a growing number of cities, Windsor is taking steps to prohibit smoking inside apartments and multifamily buildings.

The town has scheduled two public workshops to discuss a potential ordinance intended to snuff out secondhand smoke, which can drift between dwelling units and in shared ventilation systems.

The ban would cover tobacco and perhaps marijuana, whether for medical or recreational use.

“We haven’t decided what to include and what not to include,” Windsor planning consultant Brett Bollinger said.

The workshops on Feb. 22 and March 2, both at 6 p.m. in Town Hall Council Chambers are intended to gather comment and help shape a draft ordinance that will likely go the Town Council for a public hearing in April.

Both the U.S. Surgeon General and California Air Resources Board say there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Bollinger said children and the elderly are especially vulnerable.

A smoking ban would affect about ?600 existing units in Windsor in 10 different locations, including condominiums on the Town Green and some senior facilities.

But there are almost 800 more apartment units in the pipeline in the form of two large projects. One expected to break ground later this year is Vintage Oaks on the Town Green. The second, Windsor Mill, has gone through some preliminary reviews, but has not yet been approved.

Windsor is the only city in the county along with Cloverdale that does not have a smoking ban for multiunit buildings, according to Bollinger. The County of Sonoma has a smoking ban in effect for multiunit developments in the unincorporated areas.

The ban can vary slightly from city to city. Santa Rosa in 2015, for example, passed a ban on smoking in attached homes, carving out narrow exemptions for those who use medicinal marijuana and e-cigarettes.

In Windsor, there could be questions over how a smoking ban relates to homeowners’ association bylaws if they did not prohibit smoking when somebody purchased a condo.

“It’s a legal issue we probably have to run by the town attorney,” Bollinger said.

Another question will be how to enforce a smoking ban.

Bollinger said the town can work with property managers to help them regulate smoking restrictions using threat of eviction for scofflaws.

He said it is unlikely police officers would be responding to complaints.

“A lot of jurisdictions provide resources for property managers to deal with the nuisance of tenant smoking,” he said, adding that some jurisdictions choose to allow smoking in a limited number of units in a housing complex.

You can reach Staff Writer Clark Mason at 707-521-5214 or

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