Diana Love, a deputy in the Los Angeles County district attorney’s environmental crimes unit, has been appointed to the newly created post of chief prosecutor of the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the latest move to strengthen the smog agency’s crackdown on polluters.
In announcing last month that he intended to name a chief prosecutor and reorganize the AQMD’s legal office, AQMD Executive Officer James M. Lents said that his purpose was to send “a clear and unmistakable signal . . . that we’re not going to tolerate those who violate air pollution regulations.”
The appointment, announced Wednesday by Lents, takes effect Dec. 5. Earlier, Lents took steps to beef up the district’s enforcement division. The AQMD enforces air pollution regulations in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
Love, who has been critical of the AQMD’s past enforcement efforts, wasted no time Wednesday in setting the tone for her approach.
“I see it as an opportunity . . . to really get tough,” she said in a telephone interview. “I personally feel that we’ve got about 20 years to do something about our environment and I would like to be a part of doing that. I think some very severe methods will have to be brought about to save our environment,” she said.
Love described herself as “a very moderate person.” But she said after serving four years in the district attorney’s environmental crimes unit she had come to the conclusion that environmental protection depends upon tough enforcement of the law. “I feel real strongly about it,” she said.
Lents’ assistant, Gene F. Calafato, said Wednesday: “We look upon her as the ‘Eliot Ness’ of the district. Jim’s expecting the same aggressiveness and same determination.”
Under the reorganization of the district’s legal staff, Love will report to Lents while AQMD District Counsel Curtis L. Coleman will continue to report directly to the AQMD governing board. Six of the seven attorneys who now report to Coleman will be reassigned to Love.
Love said she plans to reorganize the AQMD’s legal staff into specialized units, including those that will concentrate on investigation, criminal and civil prosecutions. Coleman, who opposed the reorganization, will advise the AQMD governing board on legal matters and keep track of legislative developments in Washington and Sacramento.
The AQMD governing board is being asked to approve an annual salary of $89,725 for Love, 40. She earns $82,000 as a deputy district attorney.