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Air Quality Elements

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California’s air quality has continuously increased since the California Air Pollution Control Act was passed in 1947.  The state has been consistently ahead of the federal government, other states, and the rest of the world in monitoring and reducing air pollution. Yet, California’s metropolitan regions still score in the nation’s top ten areas with the worst ozone levels.  If the state is to continue to have healthy air quality, local governments must take action to further reduce pollution emissions.

Both the Federal Clean Air Act and the California Air Pollution Control Act set air quality standards for pollutants that are harmful to people and the environment.  The California Air Resources Board tests whether air meets quality standards for ozone, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, vinyl chloride, sulfates, lead, and particulate matter levels.  Air pollution can be caused by large or small stationary sources such as factories or drycleaners, mobile sources such as automobiles, household sources such as hairspray, and natural sources such as dust or volcanic ash. 

In 2003, state lawmakers adopted Assembly Bill 170 creating Government Code Section 65302.1 which requires cities and counties in the San Joaquin Valley to amend their general plans to include data and analysis, comprehensive goals, policies and feasible implementation strategies designed to improve air quality.  Cities and counties are required to submit a proposed air quality general plan amendment to the Air Quality Management District forty-five days before adoption.  The air quality amendment should include strategies for elements dealing with land use, circulation, housing, conservation, and open space.

The air quality general plan amendment should include:

  • A report describing local air quality conditions, attainment status, and state and federal air quality and transportation plans
  • A summary of local, district, state, and federal policies, programs, and regulations to improve air quality
  • A comprehensive set of goals, policies, and objectives to improve air quality
  • A list of feasible implementation measures designed to achieve these goals

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