City officials in Orange County are telling state and regional smog regulators to take their traffic control policies and stuff 'em.
The cities face a June 30 deadline to state in writing that they will impose policies that will help reduce smog, such as requiring employers to offer incentives to employees who car-pool.
But bolstered by a recent public opinion poll, the Orange County Regional Advisory and Planning Council voted Thursday not to commit to any traffic control measures other than those already in effect.
The panel includes council members from cities throughout Orange County and County Supervisor Gaddi H. Vasquez.
The council on Thursday urged city managers to mail letters to regional smog regulators showing the traffic reductions achieved so far.
The council staff prepared a chart showing that Orange County and its 31 cities have already achieved 49% of the reduction goals set by regional planners for 1994. This has been accomplished through measures such as improving bus stops, adding bicycle lanes and allowing higher-density, mixed retail and residential development.
But the data comes from computer projections, not actual traffic measurements.
The council's strategy is to force the South Coast Air Quality Management District to implement traffic control measures and thus spare city councils the political heat.
"Traffic control measures aren't politically popular--let's not kid ourselves," said Jack Wagner, the regional council's staff director. "But we're also concerned what will happen if city councils impose a rule on employerS and then it doesn't work. . . . We have strong doubts that some of these things will produce the trip reductions projected for them."
Wagner also cited a public opinion poll released last week showing that Orange County voters are more willing to pay extra to keep driving their cars than they are to have their car use restricted.
Bob Knisel, a member of the South Coast Air Quality Management District staff, attended Thursday's regional council meeting to complain about Orange County's position. Knisel told the meeting that the letters of commitment due June 30 have to list specific measures that each city has agreed to implement.
AQMD officials said they are not sure what consequences may arise from Thursday's vote. AQMD spokeswoman Claudia Keith said the issue will become serious by the end of the year, when the California Air Resources Board must finalize a smog reduction plan strong enough to satisfy the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the courts.