The Elk Grove City Council decided Wednesday night that persuasion is preferable to the prospect of barring smokers from lighting up inside their own apartment units in the city.
The council, after hearing mainly from those upset over exposure to secondhand smoke, decided nonetheless that government regulation is not the way to fix complaints coming largely from one subsidized senior housing unit.
“We need to be careful about using a chain saw to solve a problem that can be solved with a scalpel,” Councilman Gary Davis said during the discussion on the issue.
During the meeting, the council considered wide-ranging options, including a ban on smoking in apartment units throughout the city, to alleviate the problem of secondhand smoke for renters.
In the end, a video review of the meeting shows, council members called for mediation or resolution with the owners of the senior apartment community – Renwick Square – with help from the Rental Housing Association of Sacramento Valley and the participation of residents.
A half dozen residents from Renwick Square spoke out about secondhand smoke reaching their units from adjoining apartments.
“For five years I lived above a chain smoker,” said resident Mimi Dixon. “I had secondhand smoke pouring into my apartment everyday.
“It was like living in the bottom of an ashtray – somebody else’s ashtray.”
Rental Housing Association spokesman Cory Koehler had urged the council to let landlords decide whether to ban smoking in units. The association, he said, has an effective education program aimed at landlords in the region.
But Vice Mayor Pat Hume said he believes not enough is being done to address the problem.
“It sounds to me like the management at Renwick Square is not cutting the mustard,” Hume said. “It’s ridiculous.
“The issue for me is … you have the right to be in your house without being pestered by someone else’s smoke.”
A spokesman for St. Anton Partners, which operates Renwick Square, could not be reached Thursday for comment.