Danville appears on track to ban smoking at apartments, condominiums and most other multifamily housing complexes after the Town Council gave initial support to the proposed regulations Tuesday evening.
The council is tentatively scheduled to consider final approval of the proposed ordinance at its first October meeting, with the new rules then due to take effect in December.
"It's a straightforward approach that captures what we got from folks that live in multifamily that have no way to be protected," Councilman Newell Arnerich said toward the end of the 25-minute discussion at the Town Meeting Hall.
The proposed ordinance would also expand all town smoking regulations to include medical marijuana and electronic smoking devices, such as e-cigarettes, but the changes would not include other potential restrictions previously debated by the council, such as bans in downtown and on all public sidewalks.
Existing town law already prohibits smoking in a variety of areas, including all town parks, indoor businesses, restaurants, public facilities and schools, and any place voluntarily designating itself as a nonsmoking establishment.
In June and July, the council and town officials held public study sessions about potentially enhancing Danville's smoking regulations, ultimately directing staff to draft an ordinance focusing on multifamily complexes and non-tobacco smoking products, according to city attorney Rob Ewing.
The resulting proposal calls for extending the smoking ban to all multifamily buildings of three or more units, prohibiting smoking within all units and common areas of the building and property -- other than designated smoking areas. Smoking also wouldn't be allowed on porches, patios or balconies.
The ordinance would require every new or renewed lease agreement at multifamily complexes to specify the new smoking rules.
Citing the potential harm of secondhand smoke, the proposed ordinance would also expand all town smoking regulations to include medical marijuana and e-cigarettes.
Vice Mayor Karen Stepper pointed out during Tuesday's meeting that the new smoking regulations would be primarily enforced as a result of reports or complaints made by citizens, as is the case with Danville's existing smoking rules.
Stepper also reiterated her desire to see smoking banned throughout downtown Danville.
The council discussed that option at both study sessions, but at the July session -- which Stepper did not attend -- the other council members decided they did not want to pursue a full downtown ban at this time, according to Ewing.
Other ideas on the table at the study sessions, but not incorporated in the draft ordinance, included prohibiting smoking in outdoor dining areas, sidewalks, all outdoor areas and within 20 feet of all doors and windows.
Councilwoman Renee Morgan said she wanted a provision added to require "no smoking" signage at multifamily complexes, mainly as a way to alert visitors, but her suggestion failed to gain traction Tuesday night.
The lone citizen speaker during the public discussion was Theresa Karr, executive director of the local chapter of the California Apartment Association, who voiced general support for the proposed ordinance but did urge the town to make the transition period one year.
Karr also said she appreciated Stepper's remarks on enforcement, telling the council, "I'd like you to understand that on-site managers are not the 'smoking police.'"
In the end, the council voted 4-0 to introduce the ordinance as presented and advance it to a second reading and final adoption, currently scheduled to occur Oct. 6. The ordinance would take effect 60 days after adoption.
Councilman Robert Storer did not attend the discussion Tuesday, recusing himself because he owns multifamily property that would be affected by the proposed ordinance.