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Owners and Managers: The New Smoking Police?

Digested From “Oakley Proposes No-Smoking Ordinance for Apartment Buildings”
Contra Costa Times (10/09/13) Coetsee, Rowena

The city of Oakley, Calif., recently presented a proposed no-smoking ordinance that, although it would affect most local apartment communities, is aimed at one high-rise in particular. Residents' repeated complaints about secondhand smoke at The Commons at Oak Grove compelled the city attorney to draft an ordinance that attempts to safeguard them from the carcinogen while still accommodating their neighbors who light up. The proposed ordinance targets communities with at least 10 rental units and requires apartment managers to designate most units as nonsmoking as well as separate them from those that are not. Owners could also declare the entire site off-limits to smokers.  

The ordinance places the main responsibility for enforcement on apartment managers and not the city. Special counsel Bill Galstan says it is only logical that those overseeing the day-to-day operations of an apartment community should be the ones handling such complaints. Opponents lament that apartment managers already have a myriad of duties, and most lack the time to police smokers on the city's behalf. Some have suggested that Oakley follow nearby Richmond's example and set up a hotline that apartment residents can call to "report scofflaws." Galstan counters that the intention here is not to have owners and managers conduct a witch hunt for smokers. Instead, they should document complaints until they have sufficient evidence to support an eviction. "It's not like I expect them to be the smoking police and go on patrols and look for people smoking in the hallways," he concluded.  hopes to present his revised proposal either at the council's meeting next month or the first one in January.

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