Glendale considers restricting smoking in apartment buildings

The City Council is set to review a number of options to restrict smoking in apartment buildings — from banning it altogether, to sectioning off units where residents can light up.

Restricting smoking in multi-family dwellings has been done before in other California cities, but it’s also been met with some opposition. Pasadena’s ban on smoking in apartment units is set to begin next year, but Santa Monica’s City Council shot down a similar law last month.

Glendale already prohibits smoking in common areas of multi-family buildings, on a private balcony and within a 20-foot radius outside an apartment window, but it does not prevent tenants from smoking inside their units.

Several council members said they’ve received a slew of complaints from people upset by their neighbor’s cigarette smoke wafting into their apartment units through vents or windows.

Councilman Ara Najarian said he had first-hand experience with the issue. As an apartment dweller, he could smell his neighbor’s smoke within his unit. It was an annoyance, but there was nothing he could do about it.

“I can definitely see that it’s a problem,” he said when reached by phone Monday, adding that when the council meets to discuss the issue Tuesday night, he’d like to explore the possibility of banning smoking in apartment units over time, or creating a section of smoke-free units within a building.

Councilwoman Laura Friedman said she’d also like to review an option where buildings of a certain size have smoke-free sections, adding that she’s received a slew of complaints from tenants upset about second-hand smoke.

“People shouldn’t have to put up with that,” she said.

Eleven apartment buildings have voluntarily been certified as smoke-free buildings by the city, Neighborhood Services Administrator Sam Engel said.

The council is also slated to review restrictions on hookah use. Glendale bans smoking in general, including hookah, inside most businesses — in line with state law — and limits smoking activities to 25% of an outdoor dining area so long as its 10 feet away from a non-smoking section or segregated by a barricade.

The council could loosen the rules or keep the status quo, as it did last year when the issue was reviewed.

At the time, several health advocates spoke against changing the restrictions, but business owners complained that hookah is a popular, profitable activity.

“For business purposes we definitely need more than 25%,” said Ara Kalfayan, owner of Phoenicia Restaurants, one of two businesses that city officials know of that sell hookah in Glendale.

-- Brittany Levine, Times Community News

Follow Brittany Levine on Google+ and Twitter: @brittanylevine

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