New Bill Prohibits Smoking in Multi-family Developments

  On February 21, 2013, Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) introduced AB 746, which prohibits smoking in multi-family homes.  As you might expect, it is sponsored by the American Lung Association.   As presently drafted, the bill bans smoking of cigarettes or other tobacco products in units.  It applies to residential property containing 2 or more units with 1 or more shared walls, floors, ceilings or ventilation systems.  Associations can designate smoking areas so long as the area meets the bill’s long list of location restrictions.  The purpose of the bill is to protect residents from exposure to secondhand smoke and as we all know, this is a hot issue for homeowners associations and their managers. 

 The bill has some shortcomings.  It calls for only a $100 fine for a violation and does not state who enforces the ban or imposes a fine.  The assumption is that the local jurisdiction would issue tickets.  The bill also does not address smoking of non-tobacco products like marijuana  in units.  Critics of the bill say that it unfairly affects the disabled because it forces them to go to a designated area to smoke.  The restrictions for designated smoking areas are so restrictive that the configuration of some condominium communities may make designating a smoking area impossible.    

 For some time now, the trend has certainly been moving toward the type of prohibition proposed in AB 746.  As of January 1, 2012, when Civil Code Section 1947.5 went into effect,  landlords could prohibit smoking in rental units. Several California cities and counties have enacted smoking bans in multi-unit housing including San Rafael, Sonoma County, Huntington Park, Compton, Richmond, Belmont and others.  We will keep you informed on this and other legislation during the year.  Stay tuned!

 Kathy Mills, Esq.