Jurupa Valley has adopted one of the Inland Empire’s most aggressive anti-smoking laws, barring lighting up in all new apartments and condominiums.

While the ordinance allows existing multifamily-housing occupants to continue smoking as long as they remain in place, it mandates that the units they live in become off limits to smoking when they move out.

Diana Fox, executive director for Reach Out, an Upland-based nonprofit group that lobbied for passage along with the Riverside County Coalition for Tobacco Free Communities, Healthy Jurupa Valley and California Baptist University, praised the move.

“We are hoping it will be the impetus for many more cities to take on a similar initiative and protect (renters), especially families with young children,” Fox said. “We also have a lot of seniors in multifamily housing.”

The Riverside City Council’s Safety, Wellness and Youth Committee plans to study the idea in an April workshop, city spokesperson Phil Pitchford said in an email.

A few Inland cities have ordinances on the book that address smoking in multifamily housing.

Loma Linda requires “all multi-unit residences” to designate at least 70% of their apartments as nonsmoking units.

A Temecula ordinance mandates that at least 25% of apartments be smoke free in complexes with 10 or more units, and extends the rule to balconies, patios and decks.

Jurupa Valley’s new law was adopted 5-0 in February. It bars lighting up at parks and hotels, inside public buildings, in open-air dining areas, at all outdoor public gatherings and within 20 feet of an entrance, exit or open window of buildings open to the public, besides restricting smoking in apartments.

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Fox, the director of Reach Out, said from what she knows Jurupa Valley’s ordinance goes farther than any other in the region in addressing the threat of secondhand smoke in apartments.

“When you’re living in such close quarters, there’s no way to contain the smoke,” Fox said. “It’s going to travel regardless of what we try to do. So the only way to protect people is to not have it there in the first place.”

At the same time, she said, the city’s law “grandfathers in” smoking tenants and doesn’t disrupt their lives.

“But once a new tenant comes in, that unit would have to be smoke free,” Fox said. “Over time there will be more and more smoke-free housing.”

The tough rules are taking effect in a community of 110,000 that has only about 400 apartments, City Manager Rod Butler said. But that is changing.

Butler said a 397-unit apartment complex is under construction along the 15 Freeway and an application was recently submitted to build a 200-unit complex nearby.

“We think there is going to be a lot more multifamily housing development over the next decade in Jurupa Valley,” he said.

Butler said the multifamily smoking prohibition exempts marijuana use.

Butler said so far the city hasn’t received significant opposition to the ordinance from operators of apartment complexes.

Among City Council members, Mayor Pro Tem Chris Barajas took the lead in advocating for the ordinance, Fox said.

“At the end of the day,” Barajas said in a news release, “we are trying to create a healthier Jurupa Valley, improve our residents’ quality of life and remove exposure to tobacco and secondhand smoke.”

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Mayor Lorena Barajas added, “If this ordinance helps us stop even a small percentage of asthma-related issues and deaths, then I am a big supporter.”



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