Despite the pleas of several local restaurant owners and residents, the Bellflower City Council on Monday turned down a proposal that would have watered down the city's tough new ordinance banning smoking in all city restaurants.
The council voted 3 to 2 to reject an amendment that would have allowed restaurant owners to set aside 20% of their seating for smokers.
If it had passed, the amendment would have required restaurants to install some type of a fan to keep smoke away from nonsmokers.
Concern about the effects of secondhand smoke prompted the council to unanimously pass the ban, Southern California's strictest, in January. After hearing dozens of complaints from restaurant owners who said their businesses would suffer, council members Joseph E. Cvetko and John Ansdell changed their minds. Both councilmen asked their colleagues to reconsider.
Cvetko's turnabout was heavily criticized by fellow Councilman Bob Stone, who said he thought Cvetko was trying to gather support for his reelection next year.
"Your feelings have changed considerably. You put us through a lot of heartache," Stone told Cvetko.
"I don't do things for political expediency," Cvetko countered. "When we did it originally, everyone was going to be under the same rules. I've reconsidered. I have a right to change my mind."
More than 30 people addressed the council on both sides of the issue. Most said they supported a total ban.