The City Council on Monday will discuss potential changes to smoking regulations in apartment buildings and in outdoor areas, such as parks, ATM lines, sidewalk seating at restaurants and events like the Thursday farmers market on Fourth Street.
“It’s been something that we’ve been hearing from the City Council that they’d like to focus on,” said Jim Schutz, San Rafael’s assistant city manager. “There are certainly areas (of the ordinance) that could be stronger, and we’d like to get direction.”
San Rafael officials said they plan to refer to a Smoke-Free Marin Coalition model ordinance that other towns and cities have used as a template but won’t be recommending tightening smoking rules in condominium complexes as other municipalities have done.
“We’re looking at apartments — we’re not looking at condominiums,” said Rebecca Woodbury, a management analyst for the city. San Rafael has some 8,000 multi-family rental units, she said.
Last April the Larkspur City Council adopted a smoking ban in at least 80 percent of condominium and apartment units. The ordinance also outlawed smoking at public sporting events, farmers markets, fairs and pageants, though not at parades.
In May, the Fairfax Town Council banned smoking in at least 75 percent of units but exempted condominiums and apartment buildings with fewer than four units.
Tiburon became the first municipality in Marin County to ban smoking in all large apartment complexes last July.
Marin County officials are considering an ordinance that would also ban smoking in a portion of apartment and condominium units or on associated balconies or patios in unincorporated areas — as well as in residences with shared walls.
In 2008 Novato approved a smoking ordinance that introduced similar restrictions on multi-unit residences but allowed 50 percent of units in existing complexes to opt out and 25 percent of units in new developments to be designated for smoking.
“We’re … trying to protect the people that don’t smoke that live in these multi-housing units,” said Jennie Cook, a Larkspur resident and chairwoman of the smoke-free coalition. “We always try for both condominiums and for apartments because the same thing applies whether they’re a condo or an apartment.”
Existing San Rafael municipal code prohibits smoking in all enclosed public places and indoor common areas of multi-unit residences, among other restrictions. The city also regulates tobacco retail sales, requiring permits for sellers and banning advertising within 500 feet of a school or public playground.
State law bans smoking in enclosed workplaces, including restaurants and bars, within 25 feet of outdoor playgrounds and within 20 feet of public building entrances or windows.
San Rafael employees are recommending the City Council ban smoking in 75 percent of apartments in buildings with 16 units or more, according to a city report. They also recommend prohibiting smoking in all outdoor dining areas, at bus stops and ATM machine lines and at public events, except in designated areas.
Council members will discuss the recommendations Monday night and give feedback but won’t be voting. The council also must discuss ordinance enforcement.
After the meeting, San Rafael staffers will begin reaching out to key stakeholders, such as apartment building owners, local business groups and other community members, Schutz said.
“The outreach to the stakeholders is extremely important,” he said.