OCEANSIDE — City Council discussion on the wording of an amendment to ban smoking at bar and restaurant patios moved Mayor Jim Wood to leave the June 5 meeting before council reached a compromise.
The approved wording bans smoking on bar and restaurant patios adjacent to city streets, but still allows smoking on patios located on private property and permits smoking at cigar social events.
Before final wording was agreed upon Councilwoman Esther Sanchez made a motion to ban smoking at all bar or restaurant patios, require no smoking signs, and not allow smoking within 25 feet of a patio.
During the vote Sanchez asked to withdraw her motion. Wood insisted the vote continue.
When council engaged in further discussion, Wood called for a five-minute break and left the meeting. Once the meeting resumed City Clerk Zack Beck read the vote results, which saw Wood and Sanchez vote yes, Councilmen Jerry Kern and Jack Feller vote no, and Councilman Gary Feline abstain from the vote.
The final motion, suggested by City Manager Peter Weiss and made by Kern, allows smoking on bar and restaurant patios located on private property not adjacent to public streets. This includes second floor balcony patios and golf course restaurant patios.
It also prohibits smoking within 10 feet of outlawed patio locations and requires posting no smoking signs.
Council passed the motion in the 3-1 vote in which Sanchez voted no and Wood was absent.
The ordinance amendment will return to council for a final vote at the next meeting July 27.
The city already prohibits smoking at city beaches, parks and the Civic Center.
Kern, Felien and Feller stood in agreement that council should not ban smoking on private property.
“We should be very cautious as we go down that regulatory path,” Kern said.
Joe Jeffrey owner of Junkyard Grill & Sports Bar said there have not been issues with allowing smoking on the restaurant’s patio.
“Smokers are always very cordial,” Jeffrey said. “If they are next to a nonsmoker they put out their cigarettes. We’ve never had a single complaint.”
The restaurant patio is located on private property and can continue to allow smoking under the new law. Jeffrey said he built the patio at the request of customers who asked for an outdoor smoking area.
He added that the new rules might make things difficult for downtown bars and restaurants that are located on city streets and will have to tell customers that smoking is no longer permitted.
Several residents and nonsmoking advocates, including former Solana Beach Mayor Joe Kellejian and Vista Councilman Cody Campbell, spoke in support of the original ordinance that banned smoking at all bar and restaurant patios.
Campbell said Vista would bring forth a nonsmoking ordnance next week.
“It’s the responsibility of elected leaders to provide for health and welfare of residents,” Campbell said.
Oceanside resident Andrea Portenier said she suffers from health issues, which makes her very susceptible to smoke.
“I like to eat out on the patio and not have to ask if it’s safe to do so,” Portenier said.
She added that smokers’ concerns that it’s inconvenient to find an off site location to smoke does not compare to health issues people face from secondhand smoke.
“It’s much tougher to go without breathing,” Portenier said.
The new law fines smokers $100 for the first offense and increases to $200 for the second offense and $300 for the third.
Sanchez said the final ordinance that was introduced does not give residents everything they want.