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Mountain View's ban on smoking in multifamily residences takes effect this week

Mountain View apartments will no longer allow smoking, even inside units, starting in January. Photo by Magali Gauthier

Starting Saturday, Mountain View will begin enforcing a sweeping prohibition on smoking that affects all residents in apartments, condos and townhomes. The law marks the city's first major legislative crackdown on smoking in nearly a decade.

The ordinance, which takes effect Jan. 1, prohibits smoking in multi-unit residences including inside units, on balconies and in common areas. The law is written broadly enough to cover a majority of Mountain View's housing, but stops short of including duplexes and single-family homes.

The ordinance bans the smoking of cigarettes, but also prohibits the use of cannabis, cigars, pipes, vaping devices and any electronic cigarettes.

The Mountain View City Council passed the law in May this year, citing the importance of public health and a need to crack down on secondhand smoke. City officials cite a 2014 report by the U.S. Surgeon General that secondhand smoke causes the "premature" death of 41,000 people each year, and say the ban on smoking in multifamily housing is one of the most effective ways to mitigate the health hazard.

The 6-1 decision, with councilwoman Pat Showalter opposed, appears to have the support of the community as well. A citywide survey in the lead-up to the vote found that 75% of respondents supported the ban while 21% opposed it. Where the ordinance parts ways with public opinion is in the prohibition of marijuana use, which only 48% of the respondents supported. There is no exemption for medical marijuana.

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When the law goes into effect this week, landlords will be required to have "No Smoking" signs posted outside, and can choose to create a designated smoking area. Smoking will only be allowed in unenclosed areas at least 25 feet away from homes, common areas and places where children congregate, such as playgrounds and swimming pools. Leases also must be updated to reflect the new rules.

Tenants who fail to comply with the smoking prohibition will face fines, administrative action and potentially eviction.

Enforcement will largely be complaint-driven. Violations can be reported to the Mountain View Fire Department's Environmental Protection Division, which can be contacted at 650-903-6378 or [email protected] Complaints can also be sent to the city's AskMV portal.

In 2019, Santa Clara County released a report that showed Mountain View had some of the most lax smoking regulations in the region, falling well short of tobacco and other smoking restrictions implemented in Palo Alto, Los Gatos and Saratoga. The last time the city had passed substantive restrictions on smoking was in 2012, when the city adopted a ban on smoking in outdoor dining areas and entryways. It also required a 25-foot buffer from workplaces, restaurants and public buildings where smoking was already prohibited.

Unlike other cities, Mountain View has not clamped down on the sale of tobacco products near schools and in pharmacies, and does not restrict the sale of flavored tobacco products.

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The full text of the ordinance can be found online.

Kevin Forestieri
Kevin Forestieri is an assistant editor with the Mountain View Voice and The Almanac. He joined the Voice in 2014 and has reported on schools, housing, crime and health. Read more >>

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Mountain View's ban on smoking in multifamily residences takes effect this week

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Tue, Dec 28, 2021, 1:42 pm

Starting Saturday, Mountain View will begin enforcing a sweeping prohibition on smoking that affects all residents in apartments, condos and townhomes. The law marks the city's first major legislative crackdown on smoking in nearly a decade.

The ordinance, which takes effect Jan. 1, prohibits smoking in multi-unit residences including inside units, on balconies and in common areas. The law is written broadly enough to cover a majority of Mountain View's housing, but stops short of including duplexes and single-family homes.

The ordinance bans the smoking of cigarettes, but also prohibits the use of cannabis, cigars, pipes, vaping devices and any electronic cigarettes.

The Mountain View City Council passed the law in May this year, citing the importance of public health and a need to crack down on secondhand smoke. City officials cite a 2014 report by the U.S. Surgeon General that secondhand smoke causes the "premature" death of 41,000 people each year, and say the ban on smoking in multifamily housing is one of the most effective ways to mitigate the health hazard.

The 6-1 decision, with councilwoman Pat Showalter opposed, appears to have the support of the community as well. A citywide survey in the lead-up to the vote found that 75% of respondents supported the ban while 21% opposed it. Where the ordinance parts ways with public opinion is in the prohibition of marijuana use, which only 48% of the respondents supported. There is no exemption for medical marijuana.

When the law goes into effect this week, landlords will be required to have "No Smoking" signs posted outside, and can choose to create a designated smoking area. Smoking will only be allowed in unenclosed areas at least 25 feet away from homes, common areas and places where children congregate, such as playgrounds and swimming pools. Leases also must be updated to reflect the new rules.

Tenants who fail to comply with the smoking prohibition will face fines, administrative action and potentially eviction.

Enforcement will largely be complaint-driven. Violations can be reported to the Mountain View Fire Department's Environmental Protection Division, which can be contacted at 650-903-6378 or [email protected] Complaints can also be sent to the city's AskMV portal.

In 2019, Santa Clara County released a report that showed Mountain View had some of the most lax smoking regulations in the region, falling well short of tobacco and other smoking restrictions implemented in Palo Alto, Los Gatos and Saratoga. The last time the city had passed substantive restrictions on smoking was in 2012, when the city adopted a ban on smoking in outdoor dining areas and entryways. It also required a 25-foot buffer from workplaces, restaurants and public buildings where smoking was already prohibited.

Unlike other cities, Mountain View has not clamped down on the sale of tobacco products near schools and in pharmacies, and does not restrict the sale of flavored tobacco products.

The full text of the ordinance can be found online.

Comments

Mark
Registered user
Monta Loma
on Dec 28, 2021 at 2:12 pm
Mark, Monta Loma
Registered user
on Dec 28, 2021 at 2:12 pm

Explain how this ridiculous unconstitutional legislation is to be enforced, please. "Complaint driven"->?< The city council encourages citizens to complain about their neighbors' business. Never mind that Being a Good Neighbor in America often as not means Minding Your Own.
Shades of the Thought Police and the Young Spies of Orwell. I need say no more. This one will be entered into the "Journal of Stupid Laws" soon enough.


Johnny Yuma
Registered user
Blossom Valley
on Dec 28, 2021 at 4:09 pm
Johnny Yuma, Blossom Valley
Registered user
on Dec 28, 2021 at 4:09 pm

While for health reasons, I’m against smoking, does Mountain View really think it’s going to be able to enforce these nonsmoking policies? Lots of luck. This council is going to drive Mountain View police officers absolutely crazy.

I posted it before, and I’ll post it again: Are these the council members you want representing Mountain View? Proceed at your own risk.


ivg
Registered user
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 28, 2021 at 5:03 pm
ivg, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
Registered user
on Dec 28, 2021 at 5:03 pm

We might be better served by doing something about drug overdoses, which kill 100,000 people a year.

Web Link


Greg David
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Dec 28, 2021 at 7:10 pm
Greg David, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Dec 28, 2021 at 7:10 pm

This sort of unenforceable drivel comes from the same people that produce radio ads that flat out blatantly lose that second hand smoke travels through sink drains?

Like, what????

Have these imbeciles ever heard of a P-trap?


Greg David
Registered user
Old Mountain View
on Dec 28, 2021 at 7:11 pm
Greg David, Old Mountain View
Registered user
on Dec 28, 2021 at 7:11 pm

Blatantly “LIE”


Whirling
Registered user
Sylvan Park
on Dec 29, 2021 at 12:05 am
Whirling, Sylvan Park
Registered user
on Dec 29, 2021 at 12:05 am

This is yet another ordinance against people in poverty. It is yet another ordinance that inflicts burdens on people who cannot afford single-family homes in one of the most expensive places to own a home in the United States.

If you live in a single family home and your neighbor is burning up cigars in their backyard, you have no recourse. You can’t complain. But if you live in an apartment complex, you can harass your poor neighbor that’s smoking a cigarette at the end of their long day of working two jobs but no medical insurance to get tobacco addiction cessation treatment. This city needs more diversity on the city council. The people in poverty do not have a voice. Renters that can afford to be on the city council aren’t enough.


SRB
Registered user
St. Francis Acres
on Dec 29, 2021 at 3:17 pm
SRB, St. Francis Acres
Registered user
on Dec 29, 2021 at 3:17 pm

I never smoked in my life but this is really misguided:

1. Shameful to pass laws that apply only to residents unable to afford priciest housing (Single Family Home....).

2. Does the City realize how impractical and intrusive it will be to enforce these laws? Will the Fire Department burst into one's condo to catch folks in the act? Or worse simply fine folks because an anonymous neighbor "thinks" it came from a given unit?


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