Town Square

Seventh winter Spare the Air alert

Original post made on Dec 10, 2013

Another Winter Spare the Air Day has been called for Tuesday, Dec. 10, prohibiting all wood burning in the Bay Area for another 24-hour period, according to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 10:03 AM


Posted by choke
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Dec 10, 2013 at 10:26 am

The air has been so smokey outside this week that I don't let the kids play outside. Shame on all the polluters who don't care about the Spare The Air warnings.

Posted by Old Ben
a resident of Shoreline West
on Dec 10, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Ever notice how often these "Spare The Sir" days fall during cold snaps? It sounds more like "Don't use your fireplace, PG&E needs your money" to me.

Posted by @CHoke
a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 10, 2013 at 3:06 pm

Are you kidding me, the air looks great outside. Not sure what you're complaining about. It would be sad to be your kids. Wind is blowing nicely.

Posted by choke
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Dec 10, 2013 at 6:18 pm

I can see the smoke in the air when I have a clear view of the horizon. What is worse is that I can smell it and feel it in my lungs just walking around the block. The kids stay indoors until the smell is gone.

Posted by Duke
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 10, 2013 at 7:07 pm

What a hypocrisy to penalize us for a couple of pleasant hours in front of a warm and peaceful fire when we have to endure 8-10 hours of gas lawnmowers and 2-cycle (worse) leaf blowers 6-7 days a week. Have you seen the exhaust and dirt blown up laced with pestacides and animal excretment?
Our priorities are all out of wack.
Reported by neighbors...WWII Germany??
Fined with no recourse??
We need to open our eyes to what is happening to us!!
How do we disband this usless Spare the Air department and put our tax dollars to better use?
Does anyone know ... or care?

Posted by [email protected]
a resident of another community
on Dec 10, 2013 at 8:57 pm

Duke knocked it out of the park.......... so true!!!!!

Posted by Scott Lamb
a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 10, 2013 at 9:12 pm

Scott Lamb is a registered user.

Duke: As the first one to make a comparison to Nazi Germany, you lose the discussion. Web Link Get some perspective. They're fining people for harming others, not shipping people off to concentration camps for being Jewish.

I believe these regulations are based on solid science. There's research to support the idea that particles of a particular size (PM2.5) are harmful and a significant amount of them in the Bay Area are from wood smoke. Public safety is a traditional government responsibility.

As for money, forget PG&E and think about your own finances. I did the math on this a year ago: Web Link You're better off burning gas than wood.

Why do these bans happen on the coldest days? Well, those are probably the days when people burn wood, and "during the winter season, wood smoke is the largest source of harmful particulate pollution." Web Link So it'd be pretty weird if the bans didn't happen on the coldest days, wouldn't it?

Which is more harmful, wood smoke or two-stroke engines? Don't know. It seems like it's known that wood smoke causes a lot of problems, and it's possible the two-stroke engines do, too. See the section about "ultrafine particular matter (UFPM)" here: Web Link In particular: "UFPM is primarily a by-product of fossil fuel combustion. There is growing concern about the potential health impacts of UFPM because the particles are capable of penetrating very deeply into the body and organs. To date there are no State or national air quality standards for UFPM, nor any requirements to monitor ambient concentrations of UFPM. Instruments to measure UFPM have only recently become available. The Air District’s Advisory Council has been investigating UFPM, and presented recommendations regarding UFPM to the Air District Board of Directors on December 7, 2011. The Air District will work to enhance its technical capabilities to analyze and monitor UFPM, and to stay abreast of the latest UFPM research, in the coming months." It sounds like they're hesitant to restrict something before knowing it's causing harm. That seems perfectly reasonable to me.

Posted by Greg David
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 10, 2013 at 9:51 pm

Greg David is a registered user.

How many millions of dollars of taxpayer funds do we spend to have a bloated public organization to tell us its cold outside?

Posted by Come closer
a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 11, 2013 at 6:57 am

Nazi Germany?!?! OMG, I know a holocaust survivor who would slap the face that comparison came out of. If you have to exaggerate to such a level, your base premise is most likely flawed.
Just as some feel they do not have to comply with speed laws in our neighborhoods, the smoke polluters will also be turned in. My health and the health of my children are more of a concern to me that you "feeeeling" nice because there's a smoke belching fire in your room.

I've never thought much of it, but after reading the statements here from the selfish polluters, I plan on using my cell phone and camera to report any smoke I see.
I would do the same if people decided there was some reason they don't have to obey the speed laws on my street.

I encourage all to put the (877) 4-NO-BURN in their phone and report those who would rather do you and your family harm than not have a fire in their fireplace.

Posted by Duke
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 11, 2013 at 8:01 am

The point was missed.
It was supposed to be "good" and trusted neighbors spying on other neighbors and then reporting them to the authorities.
I apologize for any reference to the horrors of that time.
That was not my intent.

Posted by MVResident67
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 11, 2013 at 8:02 am

I was wondering how much the increased traffic congestion - that can be directly attributed to the current and ongoing development at San Antonio and El Camino - will increase the amount of air pollution, daily? I'm sure the traffic study covered that and found "no impact". ;)

Posted by MVResident67
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 11, 2013 at 8:10 am


Your point was not lost on me. Feigning righteous indignation is a tool often used on forums. I'm not saying that is what happened in this instance, only that it happens.

Posted by @scott
a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 11, 2013 at 10:10 am

"Which is more harmful, wood smoke or two-stroke engines? Don't know. "

This is the only logical statement you said. And the Air Quality board doesn't either. Lots of BS propaganda to scare the public, in it's effort to control the public.

This is very much like Nazi Germany!! The propaganda BS and the Gistapo style approach in the way they handle offenders. This is no longer the land of the free, but of the controlled sheep that are lied to.

300+ people work for the Bay area air and now we know why our government budgets are so OVER BLOATED, supporting a useless agency to tell us not to burn wood. Another way to cause people against each other.

Posted by lung
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Dec 11, 2013 at 1:14 pm

[email protected], I feel the same that I can't drive 100 MPH on 280 anytime I want. Over controlling Nanny state!

Posted by Laughing so hard
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Dec 11, 2013 at 1:18 pm

The real problem with all these comments is that most people making the statements are under the false impression that they know what they are talking about.
I can only see one or two that might. Lots of spouting off angry dudes though...the usual suspects on these boards.

Posted by Cal dePop
a resident of North Whisman
on Dec 11, 2013 at 5:00 pm

Population Reduction solves many problems. Picture this area with less people: less smog, less traffic, less drought problems, etc. If a single person showed up with problems with breathing, circulation, thirst, etc., like we're having, our first prescription would probably be to lose weight (= get smaller).

Posted by DreamT
a resident of another community
on Dec 11, 2013 at 10:49 pm

As a regular (almost daily) jogger who did grow up burning wood in winter and enjoy it, I regret to observe in this very forum the vindication of the existence of the Spare the Air days. As long as there are that many entitled self-righteous "Americans" who only care about their own "freedom" to burn wood without concern for the freedom of all others to breathe decent-quality air, it's probably not a waste of taxpayer money to poke them daily in the eye.

Posted by Old Ben
a resident of Shoreline West
on Dec 12, 2013 at 10:04 am

It's all about PG&E and their filthy criminal enterprise.

Posted by Grouchy Old Man
a resident of Jackson Park
on Dec 12, 2013 at 6:35 pm

Yeeeaahh...that and the gubment :(

Posted by What's next
a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 13, 2013 at 11:36 am

What's next we close down the crematoriums because they make too much smoke?

I bet they are worse polluters then all the house fires combined.

I sure hope none of you [Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language], complaining about wood burning, go near a forest fire, you'll all die the way you talk about pollution.

Posted by Such Anger
a resident of Jackson Park
on Dec 13, 2013 at 2:30 pm

People aren't allowed to start forest fires either. WHAT"S NEXT!?!?!

Posted by What's next
a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 13, 2013 at 3:41 pm

@Such Anger, who said anything about starting a forest fire? Other than you.

Posted by common sense
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Dec 13, 2013 at 5:03 pm

Hey Mr. Lamb. Perfect name..get in line with the other sheep and follow what u are being told. Car and factory emmisions have nothing to do w/ air is all the wood burning fireplaces.

Posted by Live by law
a resident of Gemello
on Dec 14, 2013 at 7:22 am

How many tickets were written. I'm all for turning in the selfish offenders and will continue to do so, but where are the tickets?

Posted by Uncommonly Sensual
a resident of Shoreline West
on Dec 14, 2013 at 7:42 am

"Common Sense" is a term used by people who have no numbers/facts to back up what they are claiming. The only thing they base their opinion on is what they have come up with in their own mind. They have no idea how differently smoke particulates affect the air and breathing compared to vehicle exhaust, and if you tried to actually educate them on the issue, they would fight the reality because it conflicts with their "Common sense" beliefs. In their minds they have already decided what is fact, based not on the science, but on their opinion, and no amount of fact will change their closed minds. Common sense dictates that you not pay too much attention to those kind of folks ;)

Posted by MVResident67
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 14, 2013 at 9:25 am

As true today as when these words were first penned by Thomas Paine in 1776:

"Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.

Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamities is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer! " ...

Posted by We're all such vicitms
a resident of Bailey Park
on Dec 14, 2013 at 11:53 am

True words which are misapplied time and time again, every time someone doesn't get what THEY personally want. Somewhere someone thinks they are being oppressed because the gubment is making them drive a particular speed limit. Somewhere, the rest are laughing at such a ridiculous thought.

Posted by 100% bicycle commuter
a resident of another community
on Dec 14, 2013 at 8:21 pm

I think Spare the Air alerts are often called on the coldest days because days can get very cold only if there is little or no wind. I think cold days around here are characterized by still air sitting under an inversion layer. The combination of the two traps air. Hence pollution sources cause a monotonically increasing particulate density until the conditions change.

It's easy to see the effect. Look toward the Santa Cruz Mtns on a windy day. After the wind subsides, look at the mountains every day until there is wind again. You'll see an increasing haze. If you go to the top of Black Mtn and the layer is low enough, which I think it often is, you can look down on it from above.

If you commute by bicycle, you notice the pollution, especially in the late evening. I personally don't care about it; it doesn't bother me, and I like that there's at least one way we pollute that affects only fellow local humans rather than the environment in general. It gives people an opportunity to see that we really do affect the environment, and pretty easily, too.

Re: leaf blowers. I'm pretty sure most residential leaf blower use we hear and see is illegal. My hypothesis is that everybody has gardeners who use them, so nobody complains. I bet if everybody all agreed to pay their gardeners more (for increased labor time) to use rakes rather than blowers, gardeners would be ok with switching. See here for the PA ordinance:

Web Link

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Waverly Park

on Jun 5, 2017 at 5:24 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?