by Andrea L. O'Toole, Esq.
The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors has just passed an ordinance that bans smoking in all areas of new multi-unit residences. This follows a recent trend in the Bay Area as several cities and counties are more aggressively regulating secondhand smoke in multi-unit residential buildings. See article regarding San Franciscos recently-enacted secondhand smoke regulations at:
The Contra Costa ordinance further limits where persons may smoke within existing multi-unit residences.
A multi-unit residence is a building having four or more dwelling units and, as such, would include most residential condominium buildings and many mixed-use residential/commercial buildings. Three cities in Contra Costa County - Richmond in 2009, and more recently, Pinole and Pleasant Hill - have already passed similar regulation of secondhand smoke.
Existing Buildings: Existing law already prohibits smoking in all indoor common areas of multi-unit residences and provides strict guidelines for where smoking may occur in outdoor common areas. (Health & Safety Code §445-4.004) The new ordinance extends that prohibition to exclusive use common areas as well, including outdoor balconies, porches, decks, patios, and carports.
New Buildings: With respect to new condominium buildings - those with building permits issued after January 1, 2011 - smoking will be prohibited in all areas of the condominium buildings. That means that the smoking prohibition will pertain not just to the shared common areas of a building, but to the inside of the condominium units as well. The same restrictions apply for exclusive use common areas as discussed above. The ordinance further requires that leases, new and renewed, include non-smoking provisions.
These new regulations apply only to those properties situated within the unincorporated areas of the County and take effect January 1, 2011.
By Jan A. Kopczynski, Esq.
You just settled the 550 Stanyan Street Matter. What were the primary issues in the case?
550 Stanyan St. is a nine-unit condominium development that was defectively constructed by the developer and general contractor in the 2000-2001. The units were experiencing water intrusion caused by the improper flashing of the windows and a roofing membrane that was not properly installed.
Were there any unusual or especially difficult aspects of the case that you had to resolve?
Yes. The general contractor only hired a few subcontractors to work on the project, and no written contracts were used. As a result of such poor documentation, it was very difficult to obtain settlement contributions from the subcontractors, most of whom claimed that they did not perform any of the work that was found to be defective.
Did you have estimates for the cost of repairing the construction issues?
The Association's expert testified in deposition that the cost to repair the construction defects came to $625,000.
What did the defendants estimate would be the cost of repair?
The final defense estimate prior to trial was $250,000.
What was the amount of the settlement?
How long did the case proceed?
Two years; from September 2008 to September 2010.
What was the total in attorney's fees and costs?
Approximately $135,000 in attorney fees and $25,000 in costs.
Was the client satisfied with the result? Can you share any of their comments?
Randy Eynmann, member of the Association's board of directors, wrote on September 23, 2010:
"Jan, Thanks again for all your help and attention as you walked us through this lawsuit. You really explained the events and situations well and in layman's terms, which is exactly what I needed to work with the Board to make our decisions . . . Once again, I think that your ability to break down the situations and decisions we made into understandable bites allowed me to report back to the HOA in a manner that kept our actions transparent, so there have been no surprises to our members."
Strategies for Dealing with Noise Disputes
By Paul Windust
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