SACRAMENTO — The Assembly Thursday unanimously approved a compromise to restructure the state Air Resources Board that will give permanent representation, for the first time, to major urban areas of the state, including San Diego.
The compromise--hammered out in negotiations between the administration of Gov. George Deukmejian and legislators from San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange County and the San Francisco Bay area--was sent back to the Senate, which was expected to concur, with some minor changes.
The board, which would increase from seven to nine members under the bill by state Sen. Dan McCorquodale (D-San Jose), sets statewide clean-air policy and oversees the pollution control enforcement efforts of regional air quality control districts.
For years, legislative efforts to restructure the board's representation have created intense turf battles. When the fight began this year, it threatened to leave the San Diego Air Pollution Control District without guaranteed representation at all.
But San Diego County legislators persuaded Deukmejian to intervene.
Currently, the regional air pollution control districts for the San Francisco Bay area, the Los Angeles-Orange County area and San Diego County each has a representative on the board two out of every three years.
The San Francisco and Los Angeles-Orange County urban area pollution control agencies had argued that because they are the largest, and because most of the state's industrial pollution is generated in those areas, they deserved a permanent seat on the board, the rest of which consists of technical experts.
San Diego officials countered that San Diego air is cleaner because their pollution control agency has been more aggressive than the others. In effect, they argued, the county would be punished for doing a good job if it did not maintain parity on the board with Los Angeles and San Francisco.
The representation question had been fought in the Legislature several times since the board's present structure was created in 1980.
Three local representatives were added to the state board to curb what some felt were overzealous air quality enforcement efforts by the administration of former Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr.
Under the complicated rotation system, San Diego and the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas share two seats, each having a year without representation every three years. The third local representative is elected at large from the state's 41 other air pollution control districts.