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Report on Air Quality District

August 12, 1993

* I was fascinated by "AQMD Accused of Laxity in Smog Control" (July 27), which highlighted a report released by the California Air Resources Board. The report selectively analyzed the enforcement program of the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) from 1989 to 1992 and concluded that the SCAQMD had dramatically reduced its efforts to enforce the region's strict clean air rules since 1989. The article cited as evidence of this reduction that notices of violations have decreased by 65% between 1989-92, while penalties have declined from a peak of $11.6 million in 1990 to $2.92 million in 1992.

First, I find it an amazing conclusion that a reduction in notices of violations means that the SCAQMD is lax in its enforcement of its own Draconian air quality regulations. This standard presumes that the goal of an air quality management district is the maintenance of the number of notices of violations and not cleaner air.

The report also fails to explore the possibility that the number of notices of violations may have dropped simply because there were less violations. Sadly, it is more likely that a reduction in violations is a testament to the fact that the air district's policies are driving businesses from the region. Just talk to any business owner who is regulated by the SCAQMD. They will tell you that the SCAQMD is a bureaucratic job-killing machine whose over-interference with the daily operation of Southern California businesses is the preeminent reason why businesses are leaving Southern California in mass.

Furthermore, I find it ludicrous that SCAQMD officials claim that they had to reduce their enforcement efforts in response to budget cutbacks. This attempted defense of the district's performance is fundamentally flawed for the simple reason that, according to the air resources board, the SCAQMD's budget grew from $51.8 million in 1987-88 to $108.3 million in 1991-92.

The SCAQMD is more concerned with increasing bureaucratic bloat than improving the air or helping the ailing Southern California business community.

CURT PRINGLE

Assembly, R-Garden Grove

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