Hoping to amend the city's new ban on smoking for on and around outdoor patios, smokers, bar owners and their supporters have gathered 1,083 signatures to give to the City Council Tuesday evening.
After seeing the council's close 4-3 vote in favor of the new ban, regular Molly McGee's patron and cigar smoker Jim Neal was inspired to circulate the petition in the city's bars. He hopes to sway at least one member of the City Council this evening to amend the ordinance during its required second reading.
If the council votes to approve the ordinance for a second time this evening, the new ban goes into effect in 90 days and prohibits smoking within 25 feet of outdoor patios, windows or doors of workplaces, restaurants and any publicly accessible building where smoking is already banned. That covers wide swaths of the city, including most of Castro Street, where smoking would only be allowed for those walking from one destination to another. Neal said he wants the city continue to allow smoking in outdoor patios attached to bars.
Neal and signers of the petition argue that the ban will force bar patrons to go out into the street or dark parking lots to smoke, which could be dangerous for female smokers, while increasing cigarette litter and the likelihood that smokers would get cited by police for being drunk in public.
"You got adults only, 21 years old, and plus, at night time," said Rob Graham, co-owner of Sports Page, a bar on North Shoreline Boulevard. "These people are not going to stop smoking."
Graham is convinced that he will lose business that comes from visitors to local tech companies from locales where smoking is more acceptable, citing a study in Beverly Hills where smoking bans reduced customer traffic to businesses frequented by tourists. He says he has a 6,000-square-foot patio that will be completely off-limits to smokers, even though portions are more than 25 feet from the building.
"There's nothing here that will reduce exposure to second-hand smoke," Graham said, echoing Neal's assertions. "The reason most people have patios in first place is the 1998 ordinance which prohibited smoking in restaurants. All it does is move people from existing outdoor smoking areas."
While council member Jac Siegel said he based his decision to approve the ban on the effects of second-hand smoke on the employees of business, whom he said had little choice. But Graham claims that his employees do not have to go out into his patio to breathe second-hand smoke, and his customers don't either.
Neal claims that 47 percent of his petition signers were non-smokers, and 37 percent of the bar employees who signed it were non-smokers. The petition was circulated at St. Stephen Green, Fred's Place, Bert's Alibi bar, Francesca's, Sports Page and Molly McGee's.