Outdoor Smoking Provision on
By Jorge Casuso and Anita Varghese
September 18 -- Restaurant
owners who allow patrons to smoke
outside their establishments could
face fines under a provision to help
enforce Santa Monica’s smoking
ban being crafted by the City Attorneys
Despite an expansive outdoor smoking ordinance
instituted in November 2006 that bans
smoking in outdoor dining areas and
within 20 feet of entrances, exits
and windows that can open, City officials
worry that restaurant patrons are
still lighting up.
The ban -- which, also prohibits smoking in outdoor
waiting areas, such as ATMs, bus stops and movie
theater lines, as well as farmers markets and
on the Third Street Promenade -- imposes $250
fines on smokers caught by law enforcement officers
breaking the law.
The new provision, which is expected to go before
the City Council in the next two months, would
impose similar fines on restaurant owners who
look the other way to allow patrons to smoke.
“Under the current law, they’re not
liable, the smoker is liable,” said Deputy
City Attorney Adam Radinsky.
In recent months, there has been an increase
in the number of smokers fined $250 each for violating
the city’s ordinance, Radinsky said.
Of the 20 citations handed out this year, 17
were given from May through August, according
to City officials.
Three other Southern California cities -- Calabasas,
Beverly Hills and Burbank -- have imposed smoking
bans similar to Santa Monica’s, and all
three have provisions that fine restaurant owners
who allow smoking outside their establishments,
“It’s the idea of having some uniformity,”
he said. “You want to level the playing
field so that you don’t have a hot spot
for smokers to go to. It’s against the law.”
Unlike the current measure, which is enforced
by police officers and park rangers with the authority
to issue citations, the proposed ordinance would
likely be enforced by undercover inspectors, Radinsky
To be cited, the restaurant owner or worker would
have to see a customer smoking and do nothing
about it, Radinsky said.
“Knowingly or intentionally allowing someone
to smoke is an automatic citation,” Radinsky
Using undercover inspectors to find violations
was “very effective” in the effort
to enforce California’s statewide indoor
smoking ban when it became law in January 1998,
The Santa Monica City Attorneys Office held a
meeting Monday with representatives from the Chamber
of Commerce, Convention & Visitors Bureau
and the California Restaurant Association to discuss
new enforcement procedures.
Only one restaurant owner showed
up and the association does not plan
to oppose the provision, said Samantha
O’Neil, director of government
affairs for the Chamber of Commerce.
She notified every restaurant owner who belongs
to the chamber about Monday’s meeting, but
to her knowledge, only West Hooker of Locanda
Del Lago showed up, and he’s a member of
the Convention and Visitors Bureau board, which
also was notified.
“We also spoke to two representatives of
the California Restaurant Association who have
been working closely with City officials on drafting
enforcement procedures,” O’Neil said.
“They are comfortable with the language
that has been proposed, because they
believe only restaurant owners who
knowingly and willfully violate the
ordinance will be cited,” she
O’Neil said a clear example of willfully
violating the law would be bringing an ashtray
to a patron.
However, some restaurant owners could express
their dismay at the proposal when more details
of a new ordinance emerge.
“I understand the health concerns associated
with smoking and the ban on smoking inside restaurants,”
said Maxwell Hessman, manager of Fritto Misto
on Colorado Avenue, “but the ban on smoking
in outdoor dining areas and now trying to come
up with a plan to cite restaurants are ridiculous
examples of an overbearing government.
“People have a right to smoke in outdoor
public places,” Hessman said. “Everyone
can still drive Hummers and other big sport utility
vehicles down any street in Santa Monica. This
kind of air pollution causes more deaths and more
health problems than second-hand smoke from people
who smoke outdoors.”
The City of Santa Monica instituted its 2006
outdoor smoking ban after the California
Air Resources Board declared second-hand
smoke a toxic substance earlier that