L.A. Office of Air Quality

The Times article regarding the City Council’s decision to delete the Office of Air Quality from my proposed 1989-90 budget and set aside the funds for creation of a Department of Environmental Quality grossly misrepresented my position on this matter (Metro, May 16).

I do not “strongly oppose” creation of an Environmental Quality Department. What I did oppose was the idea of delaying implementation of the Air Quality Office by diverting the funds I set aside for this purpose. Realistically, it is likely to take six months, perhaps a year, before the Department of Environmental Quality can begin operation. On the other hand, the Air Quality Office could start up this summer.

I respect and support Councilwoman Joan Milke Flores’ attempt to put together a Department of Environmental Quality, and believe the idea has the potential for improving the way the city handles environmental issues. However, the councilwoman’s proposal is at an early stage in its development, and I foresee other council members having numerous questions about the appropriate mission for this department. In addition, Los Angeles is blessed with dozens of environmental experts and activists who deserve to be consulted about this significant new step.

The process of putting together a strong, effective and well-supported Environmental Quality Department will, therefore, take a considerable amount of time. Additional time is certainly not needed for the council to approve the Office of Air Quality. With the Air Quality Management Plan now on the books, and with the Congress finally getting serious about revising the Clean Air Act, it is that the time for Los Angeles to coordinate policy-making on air quality has come. The public expects the city to do all it can to cut air pollution, but I am convinced that until we have an office that brings all of the different city agencies that have an impact on air quality together, then we cannot deliver what the public demands.


This was the point that Coalition for Clean Air Director Mark Abramowitz, board member Tom Soto, and others were each trying to make in council testimony that was not reported by The Times. These individuals certainly share my belief that the city could benefit from a Department of Environmental Quality. They merely questioned the council’s wisdom in delaying the Air Quality Office.


Los Angeles