Susan Hartley for Santa Monica City Council

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Yard Sign - Susan Hartley for Santa Monica City Council

Responses to Questions from
S.A.F.E. Smokefree Air For Everyone

I am Susan Hartley, a candidate for a 2-year council seat. I talked with members of your group at City Hall over the past two years in support of your work against smoking in apartments. I am a third stage breast cancer survivor. I literally grew up over my father's ashtray. I have lost many of my family members to cancer and other diseases associated with secondhand smoke. I abhor cigarette smoke. As an employee/tenant lawyer, I am familiar with the laws prohibiting smoking in the workplace. These laws exist because of the proven adverse health effects of secondhand smoke. These same laws should exist for people's dwelling places. People should not have to suffer from the secondhand smoke of their smoking neighbors. I commend your group for your important work on this health issue.

1. Do you think there should be non-smoking sections phased in over time in apartment buildings as people move in and move out?

Absolutely. I've recommended that through attrition every apartment building in Santa Monica become a non-smoking apartment building. As smoking tenants move out, their units should become non-smoking units. Once all the units in the building are non-smoking, the entire building should be registered as a non-smoking building and remain that way.

2. Do you think people should be informed where the smoking and non-smoking units are located in an apartment building they are considering moving into?

Absolutely. It would be dreadful to move into an apartment and discover that your unit is affected by secondhand smoke. I could not stay in that environment. I become nauseous when I am around cigarette smoke, people who have smoked, and even files and papers handled by somebody who smokes.

3. Do you think the city should enforce the laws that already regulate smoking in apartments and condos instead of the current enforcement which is Small Claims Court?

Yes. The City was trying to avoid getting involved when they passed resolution of these disputes to Small Claims Court. It is expensive filing in Small Claims Court and there is no guarantee that the adjudicators in Small Claims Court would be sympathetic or even fair with this issue. My experience has been that their personal biases would come into play and they would not want to get involved. I've noticed a hesitancy by the Santa Monica courthouse to take action on tenant harassment matters and imagine the same would be true about these smoking matters.

4. What measures will you submit to council to enhance protections from tobacco smoke in multi-unit housing?

An ordinance establishing a city registry of non-smoking buildings and non-smoking units accessible online to potential renters. Incentives for apartment owners to declare units non-smoking units through attrition, i.e., as smokers move out their units are converted to non-smoking units, with protection for smokers from being harassed into moving out. Also, requirements that apartment owners take corrective action to eliminate the flow of secondhand smoke into non-smokers' units. Transference of the jurisdiction of enforcement of the current smoking regulations to the Rent Control Board and Code Enforcement. I would also welcome suggestions from your group for council action in this area, including your research on what other cities have done.

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