Smoking Ban in Multi-Unit Housing

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On October 27, 2014, the City Council of the City of Culver City adopted Ordinance No. 2014-006, amending Chapter 9.11 of the Culver City Municipal Code (CCMC), Smoking Regulations, to add a new Subchapter 9.11.200, et seq., to prohibit smoking in multi-unit housing.

Ordinance

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nonsmokers who live in multi-unit dwellings can be exposed to neighbors’ secondhand smoke through doorways, cracks in walls, electrical lines, plumbing and ventilation systems.

The City Council’s intent in adopting the Ordinance is to control exposure to secondhand smoke by prohibiting smoking in all areas of multi-unit housing including, but not limited to, common areas and individual units, patios and balconies.  Qualified designated smoking areas established on multi-unit housing property are excluded from the smoking ban (pursuant to the criteria set forth in CCMC § 9.11.215.B).

Click here to view a copy of Ordinance No. 2014-006.

Effective Dates and Other Important Dates

October 27, 2014 – Ordinance adopted by the City Council.

November 26, 2014 – (1) Ordinance becomes effective; (2) Rental complexes – Every lease or other rental agreement entered into, renewed, or continued month-to-month after November 26, 2014, must include the provisions set forth in CCMC § 9.11.235.B of the Ordinance on the earliest possible date such lease or other rental agreement may be amended in accordance with applicable law, including providing the minimum legal notice; and (3) Common interest complexes – As of November 26, 2014, all existing rules and regulations for a common interest complex must be amended to include the provisions set forth in CCMC § 9.11.245.B of the Ordinance, on the earliest possible date such rules and regulations may be amended in accordance with applicable law, including providing the minimum legal notice. (Landlords and HOA Boards:  Please click here for sample lease provisions and HOA regulations.)  

November 26, 2015 – (1) Rental complexes – On or before this date (or prior to the effective date of a new or amended lease, whichever occurs earlier), a Landlord must provide each tenant with a written notice clearly stating that all Units, including the tenant’s Unit, are designated nonsmoking Units and that Smoking in a Unit shall be prohibited as of May 26, 2016, and a copy of Ordinance No. 2014-006; and (2) Common interest complexes – On or before this date, an HOA Board must provide each homeowner with a written notice clearly stating that all Units, including the homeowner’s Unit, are designated nonsmoking Units and that Smoking in a Unit shall be prohibited as of May 26, 2016, and a copy of Ordinance No. 2014-006.  (Landlords and HOA Boards:  Please click here for a sample notice form.) 

May 26, 2016 – All Units are designated nonsmoking Units as of this date and smoking is prohibited within all Units.  (NOTE:  A Landlord or HOA Board may determine an earlier date upon which smoking is prohibited.  Tenants and homeowners should check their lease terms and HOA rules and regulations, as applicable, in order to ensure they are in compliance with the specific requirements for their complex.)

Enforcement

The smoking provisions of the Ordinance must be enforced through private legal action as set forth in CCMC §§ 9.11.255 and 9.11.260.  The City will provide some limited enforcement for certain provisions of the Ordinance (i.e. signage requirements, designated smoking area requirements, etc.), as set forth in CCMC § 9.11.255.B. 

In conjunction with limiting the enforcement of smoking violations to private parties, the City Council included a directive provision in the Ordinance to require the City Manager to review the effectiveness of the private and limited City enforcement of the Ordinance and provide an informational memorandum to the City Council.  Such review shall occur 12 months after full implementation of the Ordinance (on or after May 26, 2017).

Penalties

Persons smoking in violation of the Ordinance are subject to civil action, which may result in an injunction and/or require the payment of money damages (actual damages upon proof, or $500 for each violation of the Ordinance).  (CCMC § 9.11.260)

Landlords or HOA Board found to be in violation of their respective duties and obligations under the Ordinance are subject to civil and criminal penalties as discussed in the FAQs above.  (CCMC § 9.11.255)  

Community Outreach and Education Program

The City will be holding multiple community outreach meetings throughout the City to provide information to landlords, tenants, HOA boards and homeowners regarding the key provisions of the Ordinance, frequently asked questions, City contact information, enforcement procedures, etc.  Prior to any community meetings, public notice will be published in the Culver City News and sent via email to those signed up on the City email notification system. Click to subscribe

Community Meetings:

Date:  Thursday, May 14, 2015
Time:  7:00 p.m.

Location:  Patacchia Room, Culver City City Hall, 9770 Culver Boulevard, 1st Floor

Date:  Thursday, June 11, 2015
Time:  6:30 p.m.
Location:  Raintree, 6000 Raintree Circle, Culver City, Townhouse Recreation Center

(All additional directions to facility given at Guard Station upon arrival.)

Date:  Thursday, June 25, 2015
Time:  6:30 p.m.
Location:  Tara Hills, 4909 Indianwood Rd, Culver City, Recreation Center
(All additional directions to facility given at Guard Station upon arrival.)

Date: July 9, 2015
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Location: Vintage Faith Foursquare Church, 3979 Tilden Av, 90232

Date:  Thursday, July 23, 2015
Time:  6:30 p.m.
Location:  The Meadows Apartment Homes (Lower Clubhouse), 6300 Green Valley Circle, Culver City

If you are a landlord or HOA Board of a multi-unit complex and are interested in hosting a Community Meeting for your residents concerning the Multi-Unit Housing Smoking Ban or would like to request an on-site consultation, please contact the Enforcement Services Division at 310-253-5940 or e-mail a request.

Please check back to this webpage for more information on the Community Outreach and Education Program as it becomes available. 

Contact Information

For inquiries, please contact us via email or submit a service request.

Or, contact:

City of Culver City
Community Development Department
Enforcement Services Division
9770 Culver Boulevard, 2nd Floor
Culver City, CA 90232

Marian Aspnes, Enforcement Services Manager
Phone:  310-253-5940
Fax:  310-253-5824

Keep Me Informed

If you would like to receive public notification regarding future meetings or other announcements relating to the implementation of the Ordinance, please click here to sign up for the City’s email notification system for the Topic “Smoking – Multi-Unit Housing”.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is multi-unit housing? Multi-unit housing includes all residential property containing two or more units. This includes but is not limited to apartments, condominiums and townhomes, but does not include hotels/motels, mobile home parks or single family homes. (CCMC § 9.11.205)

What is a common area? Common Areas include both indoor and outdoor areas of multi-unit housing that residents of more than one unit are entitled to enter or use, including, for example, halls and paths, lobbies and courtyards, elevators and stairs, community rooms and playgrounds, gym facilities and swimming pools, parking garages and parking lots, shared restrooms, shared laundry rooms, shared cooking areas, and shared eating areas. (CCMC § 9.11.205)

Does a unit include individual patios and balconies? Yes. A unit includes any exclusive-use area associated with that unit, such as, for example, a private balcony, porch, deck, or patio. (CCMC § 9.11.205)

What are the definitions of “smoke” and “smoking?” “Smoke” includes the gases and particles, released into the air as a result of combustion when the apparent or usual purpose of the combustion is human inhalation of the byproducts, except when the combusting material contains no tobacco, other weed or plant, or nicotine and the purpose of inhalation is solely olfactory, such as, for example, smoke from incense. The term “smoke” includes, but is not limited to, tobacco smoke and marijuana smoke, but specifically excludes vapors from electronic smoking devices. “Smoking” means engaging in an act that generates smoke, such as, for example, the possession of a lighted tobacco product, lighted tobacco paraphernalia, or any other lighted weed or plant, including a lighted pipe, lighted hookah pipe, a lighted cigar, or a lighted cigarette of any kind; or the lighting of a pipe, a hookah pipe, a cigar, or a cigarette of any kind. (Other definitions relating to smoking, such as “tobacco paraphernalia” and “tobacco product” are included in the definitions section of the Ordinance at CCMC § 9.11.205.)

Is the use of e-cigarettes permitted in areas where smoking is prohibited? Yes. The use of electronic smoking devices (i.e. e-cigarettes) is permitted in the units, including individual balconies and patios, in common areas and throughout the property. The definition of “smoke” as discussed in these FAQs, above, excludes vapors from electronic smoking devices.

Is the use of medical marijuana (that is smoked) permitted in areas where smoking is prohibited? No. The smoking of medical marijuana is prohibited in all areas smoking is prohibited, including inside units, on individual balconies and patios, in common areas and smoke-free buffer zones. State law [Health and Safety Code § 11362.79(a)] provides that nothing in the Compassionate Care Act of 1996 (the Act which allows the use of medical marijuana) authorizes the use of medical marijuana in any place where smoking is prohibited by law. The City’s Ordinance prohibits smoking in multi-unit housing; therefore, the smoking of medical marijuana is also prohibited. Further, the federal Fair Housing Act reasonable accommodation provisions exclude the use of a “controlled substance” from protection and under federal law marijuana is still considered a controlled substance.

How does a landlord or HOA Board establish a designated smoking area? Smoking is prohibited in all common areas, except in a designated smoking area. A landlord or HOA Board may establish a designated smoking Area if it meets the following requirements: 1) must be an unenclosed area; 2) must be located at least 25-feet from any enclosed non-smoking area; 3) must be at least 25-feet from any unenclosed area primarily used by children and any unenclosed area used for physical activity (i.e. playgrounds, tennis courts and swimming pools); 4) must be no more than 10% of the total unenclosed area of the MUH property; 5) must have a clearly marked perimeter; and 6) must be identified by conspicuous signs. (CCMC § 9.11.215)

Does a landlord or HOA Board have to post any signs? Yes. If a landlord or HOA Board establishes a designated smoking area, then such area must be clearly identified by conspicuous signs. In addition, “No Smoking” signs must be posted in sufficient numbers and locations to make common areas where smoking is prohibited obvious to a reasonable person. Sign requirements are set forth in CCMC § 9.11.215.D or click here to obtain a sample sign. You may also pick up a sample sign at City Hall-Enforcement Services Division, 2nd Floor, 9770 Culver Blvd, Culver City. Failure to post the required signage could lead to a citation.

How do I report a smoking violation? Smoking violations may be reported to your landlord or HOA Board, as smoking is a violation of lease provisions and HOA rules. Your landlord or HOA Board, however, is not responsible for enforcement of the CCMC (see below FAQ). Enforcement of the smoking prohibition must be done through a private civil action (see below FAQ).

Does a landlord or HOA Board have to enforce the smoking laws? No. Landlords and HOA Boards are not required to enforce smoking violations of their tenants/homeowners, visitors or other invitees. They are not subject to additional liability for smoking violations that occur, as long as they have complied with the requirements to provide proper notification to tenants/homeowners and to include the required provisions in each tenant’s lease or in the HOA rules, as applicable. Landlords and HOA Boards may be subject to other liability under landlord-tenant or HOA law for enforcing lease provisions or HOA rules, but that is not within the purview of the City.

Does the City enforce the Ordinance? City enforcement of the Ordinance is limited to provisions relating to required signage, requirements for designated smoking areas, requirements to provide notice to tenants and homeowners regarding the smoking regulations and requirements to amend leases and HOA rules and regulations. City-enforced violations may be prosecuted as an infraction or misdemeanor and are subject to criminal penalties of up to $1000 at the discretion of the City Attorney. City-enforced violations are also subject to administrative citation resulting in fines of up to $500 per violation; and civil action with civil fines of up to $1000 per violation. (CCMC § 9.11.255) The City does not enforce smoking violations in multi-unit housing, but has established a process for private enforcement, as discussed in these FAQs and on this webpage below.

How is the smoking ban enforced? A comprehensive provision for private enforcement of smoking violations through civil remedies is included in the CCMC. Any person, including a legal entity or organization, may bring a civil action to enforce a smoking violation. The process for such enforcement action is set forth in CCMC § 9.11.260.  For more information on the rules and procedures for filing a civil action in court, please visit the website for The Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles at https://www.lacourt.org/.