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Puff Puff Prohibit: Renters Concerned About Apartment Anti-Smoking Bill In West Hollywood

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Best sign ever. (Photo by Lisa Brenner, Used with permission)
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The Great California Smokeout continues with a state Senate-approved anti-smoking bill that has Weho apartment dwellers concerned about the power of prohibition that may be granted to landlords under California law. Notes Weho Patch, the bill passed last week could have a "major impact in West Hollywood by giving landlords ammunition to evict smokers."

Senate Bill 332 introduced earlier this year by Senator Alex Padilla (20th Senate District, which covers most of the San Fernando Valley) would allow landlords to declare a rental unit or an entire apartment complex non-smoking. It passed the Senate on a 33-2 vote without debate, and now heads to the Assembly. While many apartment complexes already have smoke-free policies, there is nothing in current law that explicitly permits a landlord to restrict smoking. West Hollywood Mayor John Duran is disturbed by the implications of the bill. “I would oppose it, because it would give the landlords another tool to remove tenants from rent-control units,” Duran said.

78 percent of West Hollywood residents live in rental units according to current Census data, and 20% smoke according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (14% smoke in Los Angeles), notes Weho Patch. The bill would go into effect Jan. 1, 2012 if it is passed. The bill, currently, has a provision in place that if a city has an existing local ordinance pertaining to smoking in apartments before the bill goes into effect than the existing law would stand. West Hollywood has no such existing apartment smoking ordinance.
Duran, who was bitterly opposed to the city’s new outdoor smoking ban, says he would have to wait and see what happens in Sacramento before deciding if the city should adopt a weaker ordinance. So far, the bill has largely flown under the radar. In fact, Duran was unaware of it until Weho Patch asked him about it.
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The West Hollywood Mayor was also surprised that tenants rights organization were not standing more vocally in opposition to the measure, and saying that removing your neighbors because they smoke is "not what West Hollywood is about."