Solana Beach to consider smoke-free requirements in new housing

Solana Beach City Hall
(Staff photo)

Solana Beach City Council members discussed potential smoke-free requirements for new housing during their March 24 meeting, when they also reviewed comments from the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) about the city’s new housing element.

The new housing element, which covers the state’s sixth-cycle Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) that spans from 2021-29, requires Solana Beach to zone for 875 new housing units. Smaller, coastal cities in San Diego have received larger RHNA assignments in this cycle because of new criteria approved by the San Diego Association of Governments that distributed units based on proximity to jobs and transit. A little more than half of those units have to be for very low or low income tenants, defined relative to the county median income.

Solana Beach’s draft housing element to HCD, which includes plans to allow many of those units in the city’s southwestern quadrant, located west of Interstate 5 and south of Lomas Santa Fe. That area has most of the multiunit housing already in the city.

Barbara Gordon, who leads an Hispanic youth group in Solana Beach called the Changers, said many multi-unit buildings have already taken steps to make their properties smoke-free.

“We should all have the right to breathe clean air in our own homes,” she added. “Smoking in apartments affects not only smokers, but drifting smoke can affect and impact neighboring units.”

Solana Beach resident Peggy Walker said the council could add a provision to the housing element that “simply recommends that privately owned and developed projects consider smoke-free, vape-free policy for the benefit of residents health and well being.”

“Those would include fire safety, economic and insurance benefits, environmental benefits, more cost-efficient project maintenance and elimination of second and third-hand smoke hazards,” Walker said. “It just seems this could be a good time to add this kind of equity sensitive language.”

But council members said they preferred pursuing an ordinance or other way to encourage smoke-free development outside of the housing element, which is already on the verge of completion.

“We know it’s a challenge to get through HCD to start with and I don’t want to upset that apple cart,” City Councilwoman Jewel Edson said. “But I also think we can do a better job of it by bringing it to the attention of developers and residents in a more open context than actually being part of our housing element.”

Council members also discussed a possible housing program that would allow accessory dwelling units to be built in zones that have a greater fire risk, with necessary mitigation measures.