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Smoking Plans OKd at 7 Eateries in Beverly Hills

August 23, 1987|PHILIPP GOLLNER | Times Staff Writer

Fewer than 10 restaurant operators in Beverly Hills have met city requirements allowing them to create smoking areas under an amendment to a tough anti-smoking ordinance passed last April.

The amendment, which received unanimous approval from the council last month, requires owners of the city's 46 large restaurants to submit floor plans showing that smoking areas will not occupy more than 50% of the total dining area.

In addition, owners have until Nov. 1 to file plans to install ventilation systems to keep smoke out of the nonsmoking areas. Owners have six months to complete the systems after submitting plans. The systems range in price from a few hundred dollars to $25,000.

Most Plans Sent Back

So far, seven of the 46 floor plans submitted have been approved, according to Mark Scott, director of environmental services for the City of Beverly Hills. Most were sent back because they did not indicate whether the 50% nonsmoking requirement was met, he said. Others simply failed to ensure that smoke would not enter the nonsmoking sections.

Scott said restaurant owners aren't deliberately trying to skirt the law, but are merely misinformed.

"The day the ordinance passed, there was nothing said about what the plans had to include," he said. "I think it's been a miscommunication."

Rudy Cole, spokesman for the 60-member Beverly Hills Restaurant Assn., said almost all the restaurants required to submit plans have done so. He said most owners have agreed to revise rejected plans, but stressed that the ordinance does not contain guidelines specifying what types of plans are acceptable.

"There is no approval process," he said. "We submitted the plans as per the ordinance."

The amendment softened a highly publicized ordinance passed last spring that banned all restaurant smoking except in bars, lounges, private banquet rooms, restaurants in hotels and restaurants seating fewer than 50 customers. In amending the ordinance, the council sided with restaurant owners who complained that customers were taking business out of Beverly Hills by dining in Los Angeles and West Hollywood.

Cole said most restaurant owners are cooperating with the city, despite the new requirements for floor plans and ventilation systems.

Jimmy Ullo, owner of La Dolce Vita restaurant on Santa Monica Boulevard, said he has been asked to submit a revised version of a floor plan he originally filed the day after the amendment was passed. The first one was not drawn to scale, he said.

Hassle Is Minor

But the hassle is minor compared to the 22% drop in business he suffered when the original ordinance was in effect, he said.

"I feel that now we have a thing that everybody can live with," he said. "I enjoy clean air like everybody else."

Ullo said business was back to normal "immediately" after passage of the amendment.

But Jean Leon, owner of La Scala restaurant on Santa Monica Boulevard, said he will not submit a floor plan until the last minute.

"I will take my time because they're not very fair," he said. "If you comply right away, they have more leverage and they'll find some other fault."

Leon said business declined by 12% while the original ordinance was in effect, but has returned to normal over the last month.

"We were busy, but instead of having six people (at a table), we had two," he said. "It was a catastrophe."

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