In an attempt to modify an outdated city code, the city of Costa Mesa, Calif. is looking at a handful of changes that could affect new cigar lounges in the city.
The city is facing an upcoming deadline on how to regulate smoking lounges, something the city council has been trying to resolve for nearly two years. As a response to several new hookah lounges opening up, the city placed a moratorium on additional smoking lounges being opened in Nov. 2013. That moratorium has been extended twice and is currently set to expire on Nov. 5.
Because of gaps in the city code, smoking lounges–which include cigar stores, hookah lounges and electronic cigarette stores–are regulated like restaurants as there is no separate code to cover these types of businesses. With some vagueness in the law, two businesses have expanded to include smoking lounges, one of which is Orange County Cigar Co., a premium cigar retailer. The other is a hookah lounge.
Both would be allowed to continue operation as legal nonconforming uses, though would have to continue to abide by the city’s requirement that they open no earlier than 8 am and close by 11 pm, and they wouldn’t be allowed to expand further.
For new lounges seeking to open, they would be required to be in a shopping center or a commercial or industrial zoned area, and would have to be at least 1,500 feet away from another such lounge. Additionally, food and beverage service would not be allowed in a lounge, live entertainment and outdoor seating areas would be prohibited and indoor seating areas would be limited to 100 square feet.
The first reading of the proposal was unanimously approved at the council’s meeting on Tuesday and is scheduled to come back for a second reading on Sept. 15. The full text of the proposal can be found here.
C0sta Mesa is located approximately 40 miles southeast of Los Angeles and is home to just over 112,000 residents.