San Francisco Rent Board Sides With Smokers In State Ordinance Disputes

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – San Francisco landlords who want to ban smoking entirely on a property will not be able to evict a tenant who smokes if smoking was allowed in the apartment when the tenant signed a lease.

A city ordinance prohibits smoking only in common areas of apartment buildings, while a California law that takes effect Jan. 1 gives landlords the option of declaring an entire building a non-smoking property.

KCBS’ Barbara Taylor Reports:

A decision by the Rent Board this week siding with smokers was meant only as a stopgap until the city finds a better strategy for enforcing the new law, said executive director Delene Wolf.

“We have a public health issue that needs to be addressed,” she said. “Taking away people’s housing, that’s not the way to address it.”

In the meantime, landlords will be caught in the middle should a tenant complain about secondhand smoke from another unit in the building, said Janan New, executive director of the San Francisco Apartment House Association.

“As one person testified, they’ve protected a smoker ahead of someone who is pregnant and has the smoke as a health issue,” she said.

Wolf said the Rent Board would take another look at how to mediate conflicts between smokers and non-smokers early in 2012.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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  • Mark

    This article is misleading. I was at that hearing. I testified at it, too. Unless everything the Rent Board was saying was a lie, there was a firm commitment to protect already existing tenants who might smoke. Indeed, the new state statute specifically gives local towns and cities the right to protect existing tenants who smoke from eviction as long as they do so before January 1st. The reason why the Rent Board will revisit their ruling in January is because the original text under consideration covered many other things besides smoking, too many things to settle in that meeting. But the decision to protect existing tenants who smoke from eviction at the December 13th meeting was to meet the deadline of the new state law. There was nothing said about changing THAT in January, but to address the other issues. Taking that option is PART of the law, not a defiance of it. CBS5’s story predictably distorts what happened at that meeting and reflects its agenda and eagerness to harass and persecute smokers.

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