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Council Tackles Smoking Policy and Approves Two Large Civic Projects

The only agenda item that doesn't get unanimous approval at Tuesday's meeting is a recommendation to prepare an ordinance on secondhand smoke policies that would designate units of multi-residential properties as smoking or non-smoking.

The fact that two council members were absent Tuesday night didn’t mean the would get little done. In fact, quite the opposite was true as the council unanimously approved a number of discussion items and ordinances, including an amendment to a disputed development agreement and a resolution to a fixed

Although the majority of the night’s discussion centered around , the only agenda item that did not get unanimous approval was a city staff recommendation to prepare an ordinance on secondhand smoke policies that would designate units of multi-residential properties as smoking or non-smoking, as well as prohibit smoking in all newly built hotels.

Most public commentators spoke in favor of the item and implored the city to move forward with the smoking policies.

“I think we can all agree that there’s no doubt that secondhand smoke is dangerous. … How do we take that and enact ordinances that restrict the exposure people might suffer to secondhand smoke and balance that to other policies,” said Mayor Pro Tempore Gleam Davis, who felt some concern over denying housing to smokers, particularly those who would need affordable housing.

Councilwoman Pam O’Connor said she was against the recommendation on the basis that smoking is still legal. At one point O’Connor related the health issue to parking issues from earlier in the night. “Maybe we should have even fewer parking places because it’s healthier for everyone to walk,” O’Connor said. ”It’s a question of balance and I worry that we are going too far and demonizing [smokers].”

The city council approved the ordinance, which would allow city staff to draft a secondhand smoking policy with a four to one vote. O'Conner voted against the recommendation.

During the public comment session a group of Santa Monica residents led by Patricia Bauer presented the council with petitions signed by 302 people seeking protection for neighborhood palm trees threatened with removal and replacement.

The areas affected by the Urban Forest Master Plan Task Force proposals are on 18th Street north of Washington, 21st Street north of Montana Avenue and on Marguerita Avenue east of 17th Street.

Drafts for the tree designations by street are available here

Civic Auditorium and Palisades Garden Walk and Town Square

With Councilmen Bobby Shriver and Kevin McKeown absent, the contracts for two large-scale civic projects, the and the , received unanimous approval by the City Council in their second hearing.

The Garden Walk, expected to cost $39 million for just the design and build process, was approved with a stipulation by Davis that local labor be considered for the project. Construction for the Garden Walk is set to begin in late spring 2012 and last about a year.

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