Home smoking ban in works

Residents of Keewaydin Plaza and Sunnyslope Homes in Kennewick would be banned from smoking in their homes if the Kennewick Housing Authority decides today to proceed with new rules.

The authority board is to meet at 1:30 p.m. in the community center at Sunnyslope Homes, 1915 W. Fourth Place, in Kennewick to consider adding the smoke-free policy to its lease agreements, effective Feb. 1.

About half the tenants in the 66-unit Keewaydin Plaza signed a petition protesting the smoking ban. Tenants who refuse to sign the new lease would be required to move out within 30 days.

Karlene Navarre, executive director for the authority, said the board could modify the ban by designating a smoking area on the property or provide a grace period to allow existing tenants additional time to find other housing.

The proposed smoke-free rule would apply to all Kennewick Housing Authority properties, including parking lots.

Jack Robinson, a Keewaydin Plaza tenant who doesn't smoke but circulated petitions, said it isn't fair to force people to quit smoking and not even allow smoking in their own cars in the apartment's parking lot.

"The intent is to prevent smoking in the units, even on the balconies in the high rise where it can drift and offend another tenant," Navarre said. "We are not telling people to quit. Current tenants still have a personal choice."

Navarre said she has recommended the board allow tenants and the public who attend the meeting to comment about the proposed smoke-free rule.

She said no one from the Sunnyslope Homes project, which has 124 units as 62 duplexes, signed a protest petition.

The Pasco Housing Authority, which has 280 units throughout Pasco, imposed a smoking ban in 2008.

"A few people expressed concerns about it, but we gave them plenty of time (to comply)," said Andy Anderson, executive director. Pasco's policy allows smoking outside on housing authority property as long as smokers are at least 25 feet from a window or door to a residential unit.