Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

San Diego County launches new after-hours air pollution complaint program

The San Diego County Air Pollution Control District is soliciting public input on its new plan for handling air quality complaints outside of business hours.

At a virtual public meeting scheduled Thursday, January 20 from 5-7 p.m. on Zoom, district officials will explain the program, answer questions, and receive input on the proposal.

State Assembly Bill 423 requires the district to evaluate and propose improvements to its current process for receiving and responding to air pollution complaints, said William Jacques, chief of compliance for the district. He said the hope is to improve public engagement.

The district grievance program investigates reports of odors, dust, smoke, or improper asbestos removal submitted by the public and determines whether district rules and regulations are being followed. Currently, the district’s 27 Field Service Inspectors respond to complaints Monday through Friday, 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., averaging about 860 complaints per year.

After-hours complaints — about 15 percent of them — are handled by the city’s Department of Environment, Health and Quality.

The proposed plan would establish a 24-hour complaints hotline with overseeing air quality inspectors and on-duty field inspectors. That would cost about $200,000 annually, according to officials.

“As we plan to expand engagement, we may anticipate more complaints in the future,” Jacques said. “This is to lay that foundation and ensure that there is an actual well-established program where we can directly contact and investigate outside of business hours.”

The district is also working on a new website that will make information about air quality complaints available to the public for the first time, but applicants will remain anonymous.

If public feedback is positive, the plan would go into effect later this year, Jacques added.

To attend the San Diego County Air Pollution Control District public meeting on Thursday, January 20, please visit bit.ly/3rsGq41. If you have any questions, contact the district compliance department at 858-586-2650 or [email protected]

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