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Ventura County News Roundup

COUNTYWIDE : Car-Pool Rules May Ease for Small Firms

September 24, 1992|KAY SAILLANT

Smaller businesses in Ventura County may get a two-year reprieve from toughened car-pooling rules designed to reduce traffic-related smog, a county official said Wednesday.

Companies with 50 to 100 employees may not have to submit car-pooling plans until January, 1997, said Chris Frank, an engineer with the county's Air Pollution Control District.

The district's proposal effectively would give them an extra two years and three months before they would have to comply with county rules to discourage single-occupancy vehicles.

Without such an extension, the county could require businesses to submit plans showing how they will coax more employees into fewer cars by November, 1994. County officials want to reduce commuter traffic-generated pollution as a way to comply with the federal Clean Air Act, Frank said.

Federal rules apply only to companies with more than 100 employees, giving district officials leeway in regulating smaller businesses, Frank said.

The proposed revision comes two weeks after district officials faced employers angry that they will have to increase employee ridership--mainly through costly incentive programs--during an economic recession.

Officials also are looking into a request by employers to count children dropped off at day care close to the work site as car-poolers, Frank said. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency must clarify whether such children can be counted, he said.

All proposed revisions will be presented at a public workshop to be held before the end of the year, Frank said.

The Environmental Coalition of Ventura County has not yet taken a position on whether it will oppose or support the changes, said Pat Baggerly, an environmental coalition member.

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