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Sacramento County Environmental Management Department Complaint #99-12


    The Sacramento County Environmental Management Department (EMD) is responsible for regulating and monitoring activities involved in public health and the environment such as air quality, solid waste management, and hazardous materials. The Environmental Health Division (EHD) is part of the EMD. The EHD is responsible for areas such as food protection, smoking control, solid waste facilities, noise abatement and medical waste disposal.

    The 1998-1999 Sacramento County Grand Jury investigated a complaint against the County's random enforcement of the no-smoking law in bars. The complainant alleged that he was unfairly charged a reinspection fee by the EHD when a health inspector found someone smoking inside the complainant's establishment. The complainant further alleged that other bar owners in the area were allowing patrons to smoke and that those owners were not being charged a fee.

    The Grand Jury learned that the EHD did cite another establishment. In a survey conducted by EHD from September 2 through September 23, 1998, 15 establishments were selected for a random inspection. Four reinspections were later conducted. Of these four establishments in which smoking was observed, one was charged a reinspection fee, two were warned and one was referred to the City of Sacramento for jurisdictional considerations.

    The Grand Jury also learned that because of the initial complaint to a member of the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, a meeting was called with the environmental health staff (EHS). As a result of that meeting, the following policy (quoted verbatim) regarding complaints about smoking in bars has been established by the EMD:

    Step. 1. First complaint
    Within five days, the EHS shall:
    · Telephone the establishment.
    · Discuss the nature of the complaint with the owner/operator.
    · Explain the code standards for compliance.
    · Provide form letter information for clerical to send the copy of the State Labor Code.

    Step 2. Second complaint Or
    Re-inspection for a Previous notice

    Within five days or as stated on previous official notice:
    · Conduct a facility investigation and issue an official notice, if applicable.
    · If no violations are observed, indicate on the inspection report.
    · If violations are observed, note violations and compliance standards on the official notice and assess a reinspection fee.

    Step 3. Third or subsequent complaints:
    Repeat step #2
    · If no violations are observed, evaluate if smoking may be occurring on regular basis and discuss with owner/manager

    · If violations are observed, then initiate an escalated enforcement plan.

    Routine inspections
    During routine inspections, if violation or evidence of State Labor Code, Section 6404.5 are observed:

    · Note violation and compliance standard on the official notice.
    · If the facility has been issued a previous notice or form letter, assess a reinspection fee.

    Escalated enforcement
    When initiating/discussing an escalated enforcement plan for compliance, consider the following options:
    · Conduct an after-hours investigation
    · Issue an infraction citation to patron
    · Issue an infraction citation to owner
    · Hold an office hearing
    · Present evidence of unfair business practice to initiate legal action through the District Attorney's Office
    · Cite owner under California Uniform Retail Food Facilities Law*, if food service workers are smoking


    No Response is Required.

1998/99 Sacramento County Grand Jury - Final Report (Internet Version) June 30, 1999

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