At the direction of the Long Beach City Council, the city attorney is drafting an ordinance that would ban smoking on public and private eateries’ outdoor patios. The proposal put forward by 3rd District Councilmember Suzie Price and co-sponsored by Councilmembers Lena Gonzalez and Rex Richardson would exempt businesses in which smoking is the primary purpose, such as cigar or hookah lounges.
The council voted 8-0 , with Councilmember Al Austin absent, during its August 21 meeting to direct the city attorney draft the ordinance. During the meeting, Richardson requested that the attorney look at an option to allow smoking during “adult” hours when children would not be present and affected by secondhand smoke, for example, after 11 p.m. Price requested exemptions for special events if a special permit is obtained, and for establishments that have designated smoking patios where no food is served.
“The gist of the item is to provide healthier spaces at food or eating establishments,” Price said. “We did do extensive outreach to the business community and have received extensive support from the business community in favor of this.”
The Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce has not yet taken a stance on the proposed policy, according to Jeremy Harris, the organization’s senior vice president. “As the issue moves forward and they try to craft this ordinance, we’re happy to have a seat at the table, if so invited, to help understand the issue a little bit better and then reach out to our members to see how they feel,” he told the Business Journal.
Eric Johnson, who is the co-owner of several restaurants and bars in Long Beach with outdoor patios, said no one had reached out to him on the proposal, but that he was supportive.
“More and more of our customers are not smokers and, if they are, they are definitely responsible in stepping outside and moving away from the entrances, anyway,” he said. “I don’t think that’s really going to affect our business model at all.” In Long Beach, Johnson co-owns Legends Sports Bar, K.C. Branaghan’s Irish Pub & Restaurant, Auld Dubliner, Boathouse on the Bay and the yet-to-open The Ordinarie.
Long Beach restaurants are already required by city ordinance to restrict smoking to one-third of outdoor seating space.
City Attorney Charles Parkin hopes to return with the ordinance to the city council within one to two months. He plans to meet this week with the health department, which he said has already conducted thorough research on the subject, to discuss next steps.
Because councilmembers asked for provisions outside of their original agendized proposal – such as Richardson’s “adult hours” exemption – Parkin noted that he may have to send a memo to the mayor and council for further direction as the drafting process moves forward.