Smoking regulations may change throughout San Ramon after the City Council directed that the existing ordinance, written in 1999, be reviewed and updated to include outdoor second hand smoke. Residents have the chance to make their voices heard on the proposal using Open San Ramon.
The existing tobacco ordinance does not adequately address exposure to second hand smoke, the new ordinance states. While the proposal doesn't eliminate or reduce any of the current regulations, it expands coverage to include second hand smoke from outdoor sources. Should the ordinance pass, smoking would not be allowed in any city park.
"I think that it's a process that's going on all over the state....Hundreds of cities have adopted and modified their ordinances to cover outdoor smoking, including Contra Costa County," said Interim City Attorney Bob Saxe. "It's not really any more strict than the existing one, smoking ordinances are pretty much self enforcing."
The crux of the proposed ordinance is contained in Section B6-73A, which prohibits smoking entirely except for certain exemptions, and in Section B6-74, which sets forth the exemptions. Under the new ordinance, smoking is prohibited at all community events open to the public, even if the event is held on a property where smoking is otherwise allowed. The city has also defined a "reasonable distance" as 25 feet from the entry of a building.
A list of exemptions to the smoking regulations are as follows:
* Smoking inside a single family home not used as a day care facility and in the yard, as long as the yard is not within 25 feet of an entrance, window or air intake of a neighboring unit.
* Smoking inside a multi-family housing unit and in an unenclosed area designated for smoking, but not on patios or balconies accessed from an individual unit or in common areas.
* Smoking inside a personal vehicle not used for hire.
* Smoking on public sidewalks not adjacent to a public or private park or school and not within 25 feet from any entrance, exit, operable window or air intake opening of any building used for residential or commercial purposes.
* Smoking in privately owned, unenclosed parking lots open to the public but not within 50 feet of any commercial building served by the parking lot or within 25 feet of buildings on adjacent properties.
* Smoking in workplace designated smoking areas.
* Smoking in privately owned enclosed facilities at private social events not open to the public.
*Smoking in privately owned, enclosed facilities at private social events not open to the public.
* Smoking in designated rooms rented to guests in hotels and motels
* Smoking on any outdoor area of golf courses but not within 25 feet from any entrance, exit, operable window or air intake opening of the clubhouse or other building utilized by golfers, visitors or guests of the golf course.
The ordinance also states that the owner or person in control of the property for which an exemption is available may prohibit smoking for any reason. Punishment for breaking the ordinance could come in the form of an administrative fine, which is completely outside of the criminal justice process, Saxe added.
The proposal, a product of a collaborative effort between city staff and the Teen Council, will likely be considered by the City Council early next year. The Open San Ramon survey will close at 5 p.m. on Dec. 21. As of Thursday afternoon, 27 people have taken the survey with a strong majority in favor of the new ordinance.