News

Friday: another 'Spare the Air' day

With the Bay Area experiencing a winter with some of the worst air quality in years, another "Winter Spare the Air" day has been announced for Friday, Jan. 3.

Friday will be the 26th day this season that an alert has been issued by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, which is banning wood burning in the region because of poor air quality.

A dry, stagnant weather pattern with little wind continues to linger in the Bay Area and does not appear to be leaving any time soon, air district officials said.

"Unfortunately, weather conditions that allow smoke to build up and cause public health impacts have not changed," Jack Broadbent, executive officer of the air district, said in a statement today.

During a Spare the Air day, residents and businesses cannot use fireplaces, woodstoves, outdoor fire pits or any other wood-burning devices indoors or outdoors.

Homes that only have stoves or fireplaces as a source of heat are exempt from the ban.

Violators are subject to a $100 fine or the option to take a wood smoke awareness class. Violators face a $500 fine or higher for subsequent offenses.

Wood smoke has fine particles and other pollutants that make the air harmful to breathe and cause air pollution, according to the district.

Children, the elderly and those with respiratory conditions are most susceptible to the effects of poor air quality, district officials said.

This winter has seen the worst air quality since 2006, primarily due to the dry weather, air district spokesman Aaron Richardson said.

There were 30 "Winter Spare the Air" days for the entire winter season in 2006-2007.

"We are threatening our record for (alerts). And we're only halfway through the season," Richardson said.

The winter season started Nov. 1 and runs until Feb. 28.

More information about the daily burn status is available at sparetheair.org or by calling (877) 4-NO-BURN.

Comments

Posted by Jean S., a resident of another community
on Jan 3, 2014 at 3:10 pm

I just witnessed my neighbor's gardener with his gas powered leaf blower blowing clouds of dust 20 ft. high.
We cant have a fire on Christmas Eve or any other time on the spare the air day. How can a gardener blow clouds of dust into the air and get away with it.
Any Idea of how to stop this?


Posted by Duke, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 3, 2014 at 7:46 pm

Jean S.
Los Altos has an anti-gas leaf blower ordinance.
I have spoken to two officers and it is basically unenforceable.
If they get a complaint from a resident and if they can catch the operator in the act of blowing (rare) and going (and there are no other pressing enforcement issues right at that moment) they confiscate the blower. Then the culprit goes to the police station, pays a small fine to retrieve his equipment, takes it to the next job and continues on with his day.
Three things might help.
1. Do not return the blower. Period. Gas blowers are fairly expensive. Then make the operator go to court or pay a substantial fine.
2. Fine the homeowner or business owner that the operator is working for. They should be responsible for allowing the law-breaking. Increase the fines for subsequent offences.
3. Ban the operator from doing business in town.
Perhaps a code enforcement person driving around with the power to do these things and relieve the police until the ordinance has some real teeth in it would be a step in the right direction.


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