Council Preview: City to ask AQMD for specific projects

Huntington Beach City Council members on Monday plan to ask air quality regulators to invest money collected from a power plant for specific improvement projects within the city.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District can collect an estimated $72 million from the AES power plant in Huntington Beach under the district's recently passed Rule 1304.1 — the electrical generating facilities fee, according to a city staff report.

The new regulation charges power plants like AES for the emission offsets provided by the AQMD. The district is trying to recoup the value of those offsets and reinvest the funds into air improvement projects. The reinvested funds are supposed to be spent on the area surrounding the power plant in question.

City staff has created a report that details various projects the district could invest in, including converting city fleet vehicles to run on natural gas, signal synchronization or energy upgrades on facilities around the AES plant.

An area that the city would like AQMD to address first is upgrading street lights city-wide to LED bulbs, stating in the report that it would cut down on fleet vehicle mileage for maintenance of the fixtures.

Incremental payments from AES to AQMD would be made in 2014, 2019 and 2021, according to the report.


Proposed polystyrene ban

Mayor Connie Boardman will look to ask her colleagues to consider restricting the use of polystyrene, also known as Styrofoam, products by food vendors.

Boardman wrote in her report that she was reminded of the issue after a group of Pegasus School students spoke during public comments at the Oct. 7 meeting.

More than 70 cities in California have implemented an ordinance banning polystyrene packaging, including Newport Beach and Laguna Beach, Boardman wrote.

Boardman is suggesting the city follow San Bruno's ordinance, which bans the product from being distributed by food vendors and requires them to use biodegradable, reusable or recyclable alternatives.


Paper bag fee

With the plastic bag ban starting Nov. 1, Councilman Joe Carchio is asking the dais to consider eliminating the 10-cent charge on paper bags.

The councilman wrote in his report that charging a dime for paper bags would discourage customers from paying the fee and turn to reusable bags instead but that after a period of time people will no longer need the financial reminder.

Carchio wrote that he spoke to grocery industry representatives and was told that it would take six months to educate the public on the issue.

He suggested having the 10-cent fee for the first six months of the ban and later reducing it to 5 cents from May to October. By November 2014, Carchio suggested the fee be lifted altogether.


Unclaimed funds

The city is also looking to transfer lapsed payments to the public into its general fund.

A total of $26,908.84 has yet to be claimed from various businesses and others from the public. Under California government code, a local agency can claim funds less than $15 if they have been unclaimed for more than a year. Additionally, the agency can do the same for funds more than $15 if they have not been claimed for more than three years, according to a staff report.

The city ran a notice in the Huntington Beach Independent on July 11 and July 18, warning residents that the unclaimed money would become the city's if it wasn't claimed by Aug. 27.

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