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Smoke No More, Walnut Creek

A new nonsmoking policy at Archstone properties has one resident applauding.

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.”

Alis Souza August 15, 2011 at 04:02 PM
Absolutely would not support non smoking anywhere. Might change my mind if alcohol was completely banned except in private homes.
One more time with feeling August 18, 2011 at 07:02 PM
This headline is misleading, inaccurate and inflamatory and should read "Smoke No More in Unincorporated areas" Later, after the confusion is established, "As a part of unincorporated Walnut Creek, the complex in which Anderson lives is subject to county ordinances." Translated: If one wishes, one can smoke in Walnut Creek according to Walnut Creek's ordinances - not subject to the County ordinance. This is NOT a Walnut Creek smoking ordinance as the headline announces. The county land adjacent to Walnut Creek (referred to as "unincorporated Walnut Creek") is governed by the same ordinances as the County land adjacent to other cities in Contra Costa County. *County* land. No matter how one slices it and no matter how much the folks living in County-controlled areas *want* to be Walnut Creek citizens/taxpayers, they are not. That's why the (County) Sheriff shows up at Archstone (on Treat) and not Walnut Creek PD. If you live in a County-controlled unincorporated area and want to be a bona-fide part of the adjacent city, then the land needs to be annexed by that city. There is an attempt to clarify and separate City and County starting in the 10th paragraph, but merely adds to the confusion... I am ambivalent about banning smoking everywhere. I would like to see meaningful (painful) community service clean-up time (8 hours per butt?) for people who litter by flipping their butts anywhere they please...
Debbie Loftin Rafert January 17, 2013 at 06:55 AM
I live in Park Regency "Unincorporated" Walnut Creek, and there is an ordinance in our apartments for no smoking on patios/balconies. However, I have an upstairs neighbor that has signed in her contract not to smoke on her balcony and as I have complained many times to her and the management, it still continues. According to the lease agreement a breach of the leasing agreement is grounds for termination of contract. Well this has been going on for "7" months now and I have had discussion with her and her comment was to say "this is free air and I can smoke where I please, I don't care what the lease says". Then I was called a "Nazi Whore". I have an allergy to cigarette smoke and if my patio door is open her smoke comes into my house. I think there should be something else I can do to stop this. Any suggestions?
mary February 05, 2013 at 10:43 PM
I don't live too far from Debbie, the apartments nearby (Park Place). Unlike your lease & agreement, our complex does not follow the same regulation. Our neighbors, including our management's husband who resides in the complex smokes in the balcony/patio. Only recently has our new neighbor who moved in started smoking in the patio. I am in anger towards this because I can no longer leave my patio door open without having to worry when she/he will decide to smoke again. Both my husband & I have slight asthma & I can definitely vouch for myself that it is getting worst. My pet also likes to go out or sleep in the patio but when my neighbor smokes, I have to get my dog back inside. Our management has not done anything to assist with this problem & I am sure I am not the only resident to complain about this matter. But I feel management does not care because her husband contributes to the problem. How difficult is it to walk outside & smoke at the park that is just across the street. I wish I could find a way to ban smoking in out complex. I have only read on the internet letters of complaint but no follow through but if there was an ordinance, I would be the first to attend this meeting & drop it off management's office.

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