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Smoking Cars

January 19, 1989|Clipboard researched by Susan Davis Greene / Los Angeles Times; Graphics by Doris Shields / Los Angeles Times

Vehicles registered in Orange County draw about one-sixth of the complaints called in to the "smoking vehicle hot line" maintained by the South Coast Air Quality Management District. An analysis of 17,105 warning letters sent out by the AQMD based on calls received over the hot line --1 (800) CUTSMOG--from April 1 to Oct. 15 found that the county ranked second even when population was taken into account. Los Angeles County produced by far the most calls and the highest ratio per 1,000 residents when compared to other counties in the El Monte-based district's service area. Within Orange County, Anaheim had the most cars drawing warning letters, but Orange had the highest ratio of the 10 cities with the most complaints. Buena Park scored the fewest letters of the top 10, but Irvine had the lowest ratio.

When a caller reports a car, truck or bus emitting excessive smoke and provides enough information about the vehicle--the license number, model, time and place it was spotted, etc.--the AQMD sends a warning letter to the vehicle's owner. Starting Dec. 1, the air quality agency also began sending second notices to repeat offenders, warning them they could be subject to an investigation by the district that could lead to a $100 fine for violation of the California Vehicle Code.

Conunty Where Number of Population of Complaints per Cars Registered Warning Letters * County 1,000 Residents Los Angeles 11,344 8,555,900 1.33 Orange 2,681 2,238,700 1.20 San Bernardino 1,350 1,240,000 1.10 Riverside 685 946,100 0.72

(Note: 1,045 complaints targetted cars from other California counties or out of state.)

* Population figures taken from state Department of Finance, 1/1/88

ORANGE COUNTY COMPLAINTS--The top 10 cities

Number of Warning Cars Drawing Letters per City Warning Letters 1,000 Residents Anaheim 347 1.43 Santa Ana 333 1.44 Huntington Beach 218 1.16 Garden Grove 188 1.40 Orange 160 1.53 Fullerton 139 1.26 Costa Mesa 115 1.25 Irvine 112 1.14 Newport Beach 93 1.34 Buena Park 85 1.28

Source: South Coast Air Quality Management District

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