Supes Committee Approves Smoking "Right to Know" Ordinance

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Legislation that would require San Francisco property owners to tell potential tenants whether smoking is allowed there was approved by a Board of Supervisors committee today and sent to the full board for approval.

Under the ordinance, co-sponsored by Supervisors Eric Mar and David Campos, landlords would have to designate whether an apartment in a multi-unit building allows smoking and provide a list of those units to prospective tenants.

Under current laws, prospective tenants "are kept in the dark over whether smoking is permitted in units in close proximity, and this will help to resolve that," Mar said.

Speaking at a news conference before the afternoon meeting of the board's Land Use and Economic Development committee, he said the proposal would reduce nuisance complaints and disputes between neighbors over secondhand smoke.

The legislation was developed with the input of tenant advocates, such as the Mission SRO Collaborative, and landlords represented by the San Francisco Apartment Association, Mar said.

Kendra Froshman, a community organizer with the Mission SRO Collaborative, called the ordinance "a no-nonsense approach to dealing with health issues in SROs and apartments."

The legislation protects tenants by requiring that units be designated based on current lease agreements and could not be changed unless a resident voluntarily agreed to the smoke-free designation, Froshman said.

Charley Goss from the San Francisco Apartment Association said landlords also back the legislation because fewer leases would be broken over complaints over secondhand smoke from neighboring apartments.

Goss said the ordinance would provide more clarity in the city, which has many older buildings with long-term tenants whose leases do not include language about whether smoking is allowed.

Owners with 50 or fewer residential units in the city would have one year to comply with the legislation while those with more than 50 units would have two years, Mar said.

Some speakers at today's committee hearing said the city should go further and ban smoking inside apartments, citing a similar ban approved just last week in Petaluma.

Mar responded that his legislation was "a first step" and that "we need to do much more" on the issue of smoking.

The board committee ultimately unanimously approved the legislation and sent it to the full board, as well as an ordinance that would ban smoking at certain street fairs and festivals in the city, such as the Haight-Ashbury Street Fair and the Fillmore Jazz Festival.

 

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