San Pablo bans smoking and vaping in most multi-unit housing

Mixed-use development approved for ex-San Pablo City Hall site
San Pablo City Hall, 13831 San Pablo Ave..

San Pablo, the city that received an “F” for smoke-free outdoor air and for smoke-free housing from the 2018 State of Tobacco Control Report, hopes to improve its grade after its City Council on Monday unanimously passed a ban on smoking inside rental multi-unit housing complexes citywide.

The new ordinance, which will require compliance by July 2021, allowing time for education and implementation, impacts roughly 3,080 units in the city, or 71 percent of all homes in multi-unit residential buildings in the city, according to San Pablo Assistant Planner Sandra Marquez. At those properties, smoking and vaping will be prohibited within 25 feet from doors, windows, air ducts, and ventilation systems. Language about the ban must be included in lease agreements, and the ban will be enforced by landlords, city officials said.

Exempted from the ordinance are owner-occupied or mixed tenancy complexes (e.g. condominium complexes where both owners and renters reside).

Advocates argued for the ban to include all multi-unit complexes, not just rental-only. City staff cited owner property rights and the challenges of enforcement without lease agreements as reasons for the exemptions. San Pablo aims to review the new ban’s progress one year after its implementation to consider amendments.

Previous to Monday’s action by council, San Pablo and Hercules were the only two cities in West Contra Costa County to have not passed a form of smoke-free multi-housing ordinance.

In December 2018, San Pablo adopted a flavored tobacco ban, which improved its overall tobacco control letter grade from “F” to “D.”