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Council moves to ban smoking on Santa Monica Pier

August 13, 2010 |  5:20 pm

After discarded cigarettes caused fire damage to the historic Santa Monica Pier, the City Council voted this week to snuff out smoking on the century-old landmark.

Smoking has been allowed in nine designated areas on the pier. But on April 30 a blaze caused by an unextinguished cigarette in a designated smoking area resulted in damage to about 30 square feet of the structure and threatened a restaurant, said Ben Franz-Knight, executive director of Pier Restoration Corp., a nonprofit group that manages the pier. A second fire May 11 damaged about 50 square feet of the pier.

If approved on a second reading, the ban would extend existing prohibitions on smoking in parks, beaches, outdoor dining areas, the Third Street Promenade, farmers markets and outdoor waiting areas such as bus stops and movie lines.

Although the timber deck boards and piles are treated with fire-resistant coatings, a hazard can exist if a cigarette falls between the deck boards and ignites dust and debris, a city staff report states. “Fortunately, the two recent fires were caught and extinguished before significant property damage was sustained,” the report states.

“This is a great example of the Pier Restoration board, tenants on the pier and City Council making every effort to ensure we preserve this great treasure … for future generations,” Franz-Knight said.

The ban is expected to take effect this fall. At that point, the closest area to the pier where smoking would be allowed is Ocean Front Walk, a pedestrian pathway that runs north and south of the pier.

-- Martha Groves