Santa Barbara County Air Quality News January/February 1999
Index of Topics in Past Issues
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On the Air
is a bimonthly newsletter published by the Planning and Community Assistance Section of the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District. For more information on items in this newsletter, or to be added to our print subscription list, contact Bobbie Bratz at [email protected] or (805) 961-8890.
We know the population in our county and our state is growing. But we may not know another fact: the number of miles we are driving every year is growing even more.
Between 1970 and 1995, California’s population grew by 60 percent, but the total number of miles traveled by cars and trucks per year increased by more than 100 percent (from a 1997 California Air Resources Board report).
Why is this happening?
One reason is the way we develop our land, says Detlev Peikert, one of the founders of The Sustainability Project: “We are designing communities where people have to get in their cars and drive to meet their most basic needs-to get a quart of milk. In some cases people have to get in their cars just to cross the street because we’re building roads and intersections that aren’t safe to cross on foot.” The Sustainability Project is a Santa Barbara non-profit organization that works to raise community awareness of the issues involved in our use of land and other resources.
He continues: “Here’s the irony. When people think of overcrowding, they’re often complaining about their experiences driving around town-there’s too much traffic, too many cars on the road. But if you try to get people out of their cars by creating mixed-use higher density developments, people are concerned that the result will be overcrowding. The reality is that the use of the single occupant vehicle has a far more negative impact than people walking, riding bicycles, or taking the bus.”
In addition to increased traffic, more vehicles on the road mean more air pollution. Land use decisions have a direct impact on transportation choices, which, in turn affect our air, notes Bobbie Bratz, APCD Public Information and Community Programs Supervisor. “For twenty years now, our Clean Air Plans have identified the land use-air quality connection,” says Bratz. “However, in the land use area, we rely on the decision makers and the community to support and implement our recommendations.”
Land use measures identified in APCD?s 1979 Clean Air Plan were adopted by the county as an air quality supplement to the land use element of the County General Plan in 1981. Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, APCD’s Clean Air Plans recommended land use and transportation control measures. In 1993, APCD created a model Air Quality Element “as a way to formalize the land use-air quality connection for local planning agencies,” says Bratz. The cities of Carpinteria and Lompoc incorporated this element in their general plans.
Bratz notes that planning agencies face particular challenges in this area: “When you’re making decisions on a project-by-project basis, it’s difficult to step back and look at the Big Picture. It’s hard to see the cumulative effect of these projects and how they are part of a pattern that encourages use of the car, and discourages bicycling, walking, or use of public transit.”
The overall impact on air pollution is significant, notes Ron Tan, APCD Air Quality Engineer. “When you look at our emissions inventory, it stares you right in the face: cars and trucks cause more than half of the air pollution,” says Tan. “We’ve done a good job reducing emissions from industries. But we have no regulatory authority over pollution from cars and trucks.”
The California Air Resources Board, which has regulatory authority in this area, has implemented several successful statewide programs to reduce vehicle pollution. But even reduced emissions from cars accumulate when more cars drive more miles every year.
And although APCD has no regulatory authority over vehicle pollution, the agency has initiated and funded a number of voluntary vehicle-related emission reduction projects, such as the Clean Air Express commuter bus service, and other projects promoting transit and bicycle use.
But eventually, it still comes back to land use planning, notes Tan. “It’s clear that in the past, planning processes have not always accounted for the true costs of development. We need for communities and agencies to focus their attention on the costs-economic costs, environmental costs, and public health costs-of certain kinds of development and the effect on our air.”
APCD is responsible for reviewing air quality impacts of new development projects under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements. As appropriate, APCD recommends “mitigation measures,” or steps project developers can take to minimize air pollution impacts from developments. These can range from standard measures to control dust from construction to measures that promote use of alternative transportation (for example, by funding installation of a bus stop or bike racks or production of educational air quality materials).
APCD’s 1998 Clean Air Plan notes the importance of voluntary, non-traditional approaches to air pollution control, and the importance of transit and pedestrian oriented planning. In its December 1998 meeting, the APCD Board adopted the 1998 Clean Air Plan, and approved plans for APCD to work with its Community Advisory Council (CAC) to address impacts of land use decisions on air quality. These may include revising the limits that trigger the need for mitigation measures under CEQA, and options for building measures that control vehicle emissions into the land use review process. APCD will also explore with the CAC new and creative emission-reduction approaches that could help the county meet state and federal air quality standards.
Recently APCD held a seminar for county and city planners on how to assess air quality impacts of developments. APCD Air Quality Specialist Vijaya Jammalamadaka who, with Tan, led the seminar, remarks: “Air quality is a regional problem” we would like to see land use planning agencies make more use of a variety of strategies in their review of projects. We would like to see them include policies in their plans and ordinances to reduce the number of vehicle miles traveled.”
The need to re-focus attention on land use planning is also cited in the long-range Regional Transportation Plan Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG) has developed for the area. The 1995 RTP notes that most communities have an existing pattern of development that makes it difficult to use alternative forms of transportation.
The RTP recommends that jurisdictions examine their land use policies and zoning ordinances to ensure that “future transportation problems are reduced through a land use pattern conducive to alternative transportation modes.”
Community involvement is the critical component of making changes over time in the way we use our land, notes Peikert: “We need more people to participate in the planning of their communities. We need to encourage people to start thinking about what constitutes a livable community, and to understand that we may need to start doing some things differently. We need to demonstrate for people the link between land use, transportation, and air quality. And we need more examples of good kinds of developments, that support a sustainable community model.”
Communities in this county have always been more active in looking at land use issues than in some other parts of the state. Recently there have been several signs of renewed energy in this area, including: successful efforts to support open space along the Carpinteria Bluffs and in Las Positas Park; installation of new bike route signs in the South County; a new housing development for Santa Maria, designed with 700 single-family units, a church, a park, school and greenbelt, all within easy walking distance; the revitalization of Goleta Old Town; adoption by the City of Santa Barbara of the Bicycle Master Plan; continued focus on bikeways in North County; a successful international conference last fall on bicycle-friendly and pedestrian-friendly community design (the Pro Bike Pro Walk conference); and commitment by SBCAG to prioritize transit and alternative transportation for federal transportation funding.
Said Jammalamadaka: “We’re encouraged by the community’s efforts to work towards sustainable planning. At APCD we’re committed to working collaboratively with all of the other agencies and stakeholders to realize this vision.”
For more information on the Regional Transportation Plan, contact Ann Lawler, SBCAG at 568-2546/ [email protected]
1998 Clean Air Plan, Santa Barbara County APCD, available here.
Scope and Content of Air Quality Sections in Environmental Documents ,Santa Barbara County APCD, 1998 (available by calling 805.961.8893
Santa Barbara’s Innovative Building Design Review Committee at: http://www.sbcountyplanning.org/projects/ibrp/
The Sustainability Project, Santa Barbara, 805.966.3355
The Land Use – Air Quality Linkage: How Land Use and Transportation Affect Air Quality, California Air Resources Board, 1997, available on the ARB website (search for current link) http://www.arb.ca.gov.
Also on the ARB site, see Transportation-Related Land Use Strategies to Minimize Motor Vehicle Emissions: An Indirect Source Research Study, June 1995, and information on the new planning Urbemis software.
Beyond Sprawl: New Patterns of Growth to Fit the New California Available at: http://www.landwatch.org/pages/perspectives/sprawlreport.htm
Air Quality Guidelines for General Plans, San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District,1994 ($24.00, available by calling Dave Mitchell at 209.497.1975)
Tools for Reducing Vehicle Trips Through Land Use Design: Increasing Bicycling, Walking and Transit Use in the San Diego Region, San Diego APCD (available by calling Andy Hamilton at 619.694.8965).
Additional information and publications available at:
Following are the highlights of the December and January Board meetings
- Executed grant agreements with two farms for repower of agricultural booster pumps with low-emission engines.
- Approved the 1998 Clean Air Plan.
- Received and filed APCD?s report on its Air Toxics “Hot Spots” program.
- Authorized APCD Director to pursue an increase in state subvention funds.
- Executed grant agreements with two farms for repowers of agricultural booster pumps with low-emission engines.
- Adopted amendments to Rule 102, Definitions.
- Received a briefing on diesel exhaust.
- Approved grant agreement with Ventura County Air Pollution Control District for repower of the Ventura-Santa Barbara Clean Air Express bus with a compressed natural gas (CNG) engine, and authorized APCD Director to provide up to $77,660 for this repower.
- Approved grant agreement with Santa Barbara Airbus to operate the Clean Air Express Commuter Bus Program.
- Approved a one-year time extension of APCD?s Electric Vehicle Buydown Incentive Program through January 31, 2000.
- Approved APCD projects to be submitted for funding consideration in the development of the 1999 Federal Transportation Improvement Program.
APCD’s 1998 Clean Air Plan — the final plan adopted by the APCD Board in December of 1998, which shows how we will continue to improve the air quality in our county, and meet the deadline to attain the federal one-hour ozone standard, here.
APCD’s Air Toxics “Hot Spots” Program Annual Report — the report that was issued and approved in December 1998. The report and web pages describe the APCD program, and provide questions and answers on air toxics, here.
Learning About Air Pollution — web pages with links for students, teachers, and parents, here.
|ATC Applications Received||4||8|
|ATC Permits Issued||7||2|
|PTO Applications Received||9||7|
|PTO Permits Issued||2||6|
|Notices of Violation Issued||11||26|
|–Administrative Infractions Documented (subset of above)||5||4|