The town of Oxnard, California has voted to prohibit smoking in senior public housing complexes in the downtown area. The measure passed unanimously at a city council meeting on March 25th. Oxnard’s new legislation makes it the third town in California to restrict smoking in multifamily apartment rentals.
These towns have taken bold stands on the issue of smoking in apartments. As we related in an earlier post on smoke free apartments, the issue can be quite contentious. Local ordinances generally draw the ire of civil liberty groups over the protection of an individual’s right to privacy.
The matter has been quite difficult to resolve in the multifamily industry; unless the apartment is delegated by its owners as smoke free, the issue often is left to be hashed out between neighbors.
At least in once instance, a neighborly dispute about smoking has led to a negligence lawsuit. Galila Huff, of New York City was sued for endangering the health of her neighbors and their 4 year old son.
The lawsuit was settled out of court after Aerus, a manufacturer of home cleaning products, offered to install air filters and purifiers in both apartments.
If not for the intervention of the company, however, it is difficult to predict how this matter would have played out in court. How can a balance be struck between the right to privacy, especially in one’s home and his or her effect on their community?
Is this issue best left to be settled amongst neighbors or should local municipalities start getting involved?