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Smog Cleanup Plan Called Unworkable, Poorly Researched

Times Staff Writer

A county report released Thursday ridicules a smog-cleanup plan proposed by two regional agencies, saying the dramatic life style changes and futuristic technology that it recommends are unworkable and poorly researched.

The report, which will be considered by the Board of Supervisors next week, said even if the proposed Air Quality Management Plan were fully implemented, it would not achieve air quality standards required by the federal government.

It also said that there has not been adequate study of the plan’s economic impact on county businesses. The plan, drafted by the Southern California Assn. of Governments and the South Coast Air Quality Management District, calls for mandatory van pooling, staggered work hours and a proposed requirement that up to 20% of a company’s employees be forced to work through telecommunications rather than traveling to an office.

“The gist of our report is that we really need to spend more time studying this,” said Bill Gayk, a demographic analyst in the county administrative office, which prepared the report. “Nobody knows what the heck this is going to cost, (and) many of these measures could be very expensive.”

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The Air Quality Management Plan is scheduled to be adopted in December by the agencies that drafted it. Eventually, a statewide plan is to be developed under the orders of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which is seeking to clean up California’s air by the year 2007.

The draft of the regional plan was released last month, and counties were given a 45-day period to comment on it. The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to consider the staff report prepared by the county administrative office next week and vote on whether to forward it to the regional agencies.

Officials from the two regional agencies were not available for comment late Thursday.

One of the major complaints in the county report is that its air quality goals are contingent on technology that is not presently available. The report criticized the requirement, for example, that all county-owned vehicles be electrically powered by 2007.

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The county report said that would require an additional 45,400 megawatts of electricity in the Los Angeles basin, almost as much as the entire state used last year.

The report also said:

SCAG and the South Coast Air Quality Management District developed their own population projections rather than using the state’s. Because the agencies’ projections are higher, more cars and smog are foreseen. The mitigation measures required under the agencies’ calculations therefore are more strict that the state’s projections would seem to necessitate.

The smog plan would create a new regional governmental structure that would take away significant decision-making authority from local elected officials. “It would not be brought about by new federal or state laws, a state constitutional convention or by plebiscite,” the report says. “It will have been brought about by the adoption of a regional air quality management plan.”

Almost half of the county’s 13,700 employees were already working on staggered work schedules last year, and doing much more could cause labor and performance problems. “The county should not be forced to provide a lesser level of service to its citizens in order to accommodate alternative work schedules.”


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