OCEANSIDE — Oceanside joined fellow North County coastal cities, and gave its city attorney direction to draft an outdoor dining smoking ban on Feb. 18.
Proposed restrictions will not allow restaurant or bar patrons to light up a smoke on an outdoor patio. The goal of the ordinance is to protect restaurant workers and patrons from secondhand smoke.
Bar and restaurant owners at the meeting said the regulation would push secondhand smoke to the front door entrance. Several owners said they specifically built an outdoor patio at the request of customers who smoke.
“It’s about customer service,” Joe Jeffery, owner of Junkyard Grill & Sports Bar, said. “I own a private establishment on private property. Let me run mine the way I need to do it.”
Councilman Jerry Kern supported restaurant and bar owners’ choice to allow patio smoking. Part of his argument against a smoking ban was restaurant workers and patrons can select establishments based on their policies.
“I don’t think we need more government here,” Kern said. “I don’t think we need another ordinance.”
Mayor Jim Wood said numerous calls from residents requesting a smoking ban prompted him to bring the item forward.
A similar smoking ban was propose in June 2013, but did not receive a motion for a vote. The previous ban only restricted smoking on patios adjacent to public sidewalks, and allowed smoking on restaurant patios located on private property and second floors.
The current ban includes all bar and restaurant patios.
About half of Oceanside restaurants already prohibit outdoor smoking.
“A city ordinance makes an enforcement policy easier,” Councilwoman Esther Sanchez said. “A lot of restaurants are asking us to pass a ban.”
Sanchez read a list of restaurants that support a smoking ban, and said the list includes restaurants that have been in business for many years.
“Public health and safety is our biggest concern,” Sanchez said. “Secondhand smoke is a very dangerous thing.”
City Council voted 3-2 to give direction to draft a smoking ordinance. Kern and Councilman Jack Feller voted no. Council will cast a final vote on the ordinance within 30 days.
The cities of Del Mar, Solana Beach, Encinitas and Carlsbad do not allow restaurant patio smoking.