Atascadero City Manager, Rachelle Rickard

by Atascadero City Manager, Rachelle Rickard

The Atascadero Police Department often receives calls from residents who are concerned about smoking and vaping occurring in and around areas of town that are regularly used for various public activities. In many of these locations the City’s previous Smoking Ordinances either allowed smoking or were unclear, which prevented the Police Department from taking any action. In addition, back in 2016, the State of California repealed regulations that had previously made possession of tobacco products illegal for anyone under the age of 18, which concerned many parents and restricted local law enforcement’s ability to help keep children from possessing tobacco products. Those two items, in addition to inconsistencies with current State smoking laws, caused the City to take a closer look at its local regulations related to smoking.

After several public meetings on the matter, the Council adopted a new Smoking Ordinance that went into effect on September 12, 2019. Not only does the new ordinance prohibit the possession or use of tobacco or electronic cigarettes (vaping), for any person under the age of 18, it is now in compliance with State law and prohibits smoking (including vaping) in several additional locations throughout town. This new Smoking Ordinance helps our local officers by providing them with more clear direction and standards to follow when enforcing smoking regulations.

Below is a brief summary of the areas where smoking is prohibited:

  • Within all city-owned, leased, or operated buildings, including meeting facilities in accordance with California Government Code Section 7596-7597;
  • Within all places of employment, in accordance with California Labor Code Section 6404.5, as may be amended;
  • Within all enclosed places, whether publicly or privately-owned and regardless of any applicable fee or age requirement, that are available and open to the general public, including but not limited to parking garages, bars, restaurants, cafes, outdoor dining patios or courtyards, clubs, stores, arenas, taxis and buses;
  • At all outdoor public events, including but not limited to sports events, speaking performances, ceremonies, pageants, fairs, and other entertainment events open to the public;
  • Within twenty feet of the entrance or exit of any commercial establishment open to the general public;
  • Within a public sidewalk or within 20 feet of a public sidewalk when the sidewalk is within a commercial zoning district and when the sidewalk is adjacent to an outdoor café, restaurant, bar or other outdoor dining area;
  • In common areas of multi-unit residential buildings, including halls, lobbies, outdoor eating areas, play and swimming areas;
  • Within 100 feet of the outmost edge of Sunken Gardens, Pedestrian Tunnel and Pedestrian Bridge;
  • Any public place within 500 feet of any public or private school property that services children from the grades of K-12. This includes all hours, not only school hours;
  • In all public transportation facilities including all bus shelters and bus stops;
  • In or upon any sidewalks, roadways, medians or city right-of-way on the following streets:
    • Any street in the Downtown Commercial Zoning District (DC) and Downtown Office Zoning District (DO) as shown on the City’s official zoning maps (Interactive Zoning Map linked here)
    • El Camino Real
    • Morro Road
    • Atascadero Avenue

As always, if you have any questions regarding this or any other topic concerning the City, please feel free to contact me at