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Ask Eli: Condo Smoking Ban Update

This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Arlington resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!

Question: Do you have any updates on how smoking bans are going in Arlington condo buildings?

Answer: In 2016, I wrote a column on condo smoking bans as my fellow 1800 Wilson Board members and I explored a smoking ban within our community. Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting members of our condo communities that have been instrumental in clearing the path for healthier, more welcoming condo buildings by navigating the complex rules and challenges of banning smoking in condo units and on private balconies (banning smoking in common areas is easy).

The process of implementing a smoking ban is long, difficult and time-consuming for those involved, but it is possible. I’m aware of at least 10 buildings in Arlington and Alexandria that have already passed, or are in the process of passing, amendments to their by-laws to ban smoking inside units and on balconies. Some of those communities I know of off-hand are (I know I’m missing a few):

  • Hyde Park (Ballston)
  • Wentworth Place (Virginia Square)
  • Carlyle House (Columbia Pike)
  • Lyon Pointe (Lyon Village)
  • Horizon House (Pentagon City) *I believe they’re in process
  • Carlyle Towers (Alexandria)
  • The Towers (NW D.C.)

For those of you interested in pursuing a smoking ban within your condo community, I recorded the panel discussion I hosted last year and you can watch it on YouTube here. It’s a long video (almost two hours), but it provides a highly detailed roadmap and great lessons learned from members of the community who have gone through the process already.

I also have some materials from the meeting that I would be more than happy to email to anybody who wants it. Just email me at [email protected].

For those of you considering a smoking ban effort, it’s important to understand a few things before you get started:

  • It usually takes 18-24+ months
  • It requires a by-law change, which usually requires at least 2/3 “yes” votes (non-votes are the same as “no” votes)
  • Start with an informal survey of the community to see if you have enough support to reach 2/3
  • Documentation and organization are critical
  • Prepare to have an attorney involved throughout the process
  • Some communities must compromise on a Grandfather Clause in order to get the necessary votes, but Grandfather Clauses are not required

I love hearing from people in communities who are making progress towards a smoke-free building, so please reach out to share your successes and frustrations!

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column or to set-up an in-person meeting to discuss local real estate, please send an email to [email protected]. To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at www.EliResidential.com. Call me directly at (703) 539-2529.

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington D.C., and Maryland with RLAH Real Estate, 4040 N. Fairfax Dr. #10C Arlington, VA 22203, (703) 390-9460.

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