When Don Anderson read the online newsletter from Archstone management, his one complaint with the Walnut Creek rental property where he lives vanished.
Archstone Walnut Creek Station, one of three complexes owned by the Denver subsidiary of New York’s Tishman-Speyer, implemented a no smoking policy — effective June 1 and applicable to all residents.
After nine years suffering the second-hand smoke of his neighbors, Anderson was jubilant.
“I think it is a miracle that smoking has been universally banned here, as well as Archstone's adjacent properties, so that this entire area is now smoke free, including the connecting streets that Archstone also owns. It really is amazing how smoke free this area has become,” he wrote in an email.
The new policy made an immediate difference at the complex on Roble Road near Treat Boulevard.
“Most smokers are abiding by the policy, although a few have been defiant. For example, one smoker gave me the finger when I reminded him of the policy,” Anderson said.
As a part of unincorporated Walnut Creek, the complex in which Anderson lives is subject to county ordinances, which prohibit smoking in public parks, outdoor restaurants and lounges and enclosed workplaces.
Contra Costa County supervisors strengthened the ordinance by passing a ban on smoking in outdoor areas of multi-unit housing in October, with an effective date of Jan. 1, 2011. Residences receiving permits after the first of this year are required to ban smoking in all dwellings in multi-unit housing. And nonsmoking provisions must be added to all new leases and lease renewals.
Anderson said that when Archstone informed residents of the updated county ordinance and announced it would be deciding which buildings would allow smoking and which wouldn't, the hue and cry from residents was deafening. The majority were against smoking, resulting in the complex-wide ban.
“I am an ardent anti-smoker and in fact have believed for some time that the city of Walnut Creek should ban smoking in the downtown corridor, where smoking is a real nuisance,” Anderson said.
Archstone’s other properties, located in Walnut Creek proper, are subject to less restrictive city bans, which prohibit smoking in enclosed workplaces and in areas with inadequate ventilation.
Policy Bulletin No. PB-012, the Tobacco and Smoking Related Uses document filed under the city’s Development Review Services Department, details the city’s compliance with the California Labor Code and Walnut Creek Municipal Codes. Two pages of specific inclusions and exclusions set ventilation standards and refer to private smoker’s lounges, bars and taverns, and exceptions for companies with five or fewer employees.
But that’s not good enough for determined non-smokers like Anderson.
“I avoid downtown specifically because of the smoking and for years I have not been able to understand why the City Council hasn't shown some leadership by implementing a smoking ban in the downtown area,” he stated, emboldened by the changes where he lives.
Walnut Creek residents who smoke are sure to have a voice if the issue comes before the council, as they have in other communities. When that happens, Anderson will be first in line, ready to bring Walnut Creek out of what he calls “the dark ages regarding smoking.”