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Burlingame moves ahead with smoking ban in Broadway Business District

Burlingame moves ahead with smoking ban in Broadway Business District
Burlingame moves ahead with smoking ban in Broadway Business District 02:52

BURLINGAME -- The city of Burlingame is moving forward with a smoking ban in the Broadway Business District. 

The move comes after the president and members of the Broadway Business Improvement District brought forward concerns about secondhand smoke, litter, and complaints from patrons about smoking in the neighborhood.

"People chat outside the front doors at different locations of business, and while they're smoking and chatting, the smoke comes into the business," said Broadway Business Improvement District (BID) President John Kevranian, who also owns Nuts for Candy and Toys. "It's been a problem for several years. I think it was time for me to take the initiative."

Kevranian says he's heard complaints about this issue over the years from other business owners, customers, employees, and locals. The problem got worse in recent years when parklets went up, he says.

"When you have people standing outside for 10-15 minutes, 2-3 individuals smoking at the same time, it can be very bothersome," he said.

Kevranian brought the idea of a smoking ban to the city late last year. City staff surveyed 38 businesses to get their take on it. 25 supported it, one did not, and 12 declined to weigh in.

During a February meeting, the City Council approved a pilot program prohibiting smoking in front of all street-facing Broadway businesses. The ban isn't limited to cigarettes; it includes vapes, marijuana, and tobacco.

"Next is trying to install signs around Broadway and let people know that we have no smoking on Broadway," Kevranian said. "We are not the only city in the Bay Area doing this. There are many other cities that have adopted no smoking in their business districts."

City leaders and Kevranian acknowledge enforcement will be a tricky process. For the pilot program, city staff suggested a long grace period prior to enforcement actions, partnered with widespread education about the ban. Furthermore, those in the BID should be prepared to self-police during the test-run.

Lucy Dul, who owns Burlingame Laguna Florist on Broadway, hopes people will follow the new rules. However, she's not sure self-policing and signage will be enough.

"At least we start somewhere to tell them not to smoke, but I don't know how that will be effective," she said. "Hopefully they'll follow the rule and respect other people who don't smoke."

Kevranian thinks education, signage, and reminders from business owners will be enough to make a difference, and that the ban will benefit the greater community.

"It's a win-win for our community, and also for the environment," he said. "This will make a great difference. More families will be spending more time on the street shopping and patronizing our businesses."

City staff will draft an ordinance that the City Council will review at one of their meetings in March. Similar bans are already in place in Walnut Creek, Palo Alto and Santa Cruz.

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