Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Convoluted Tangle of Rules


This week I spent some time looking into what authority the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) has. The legislation creating the BAAQMD is in Division 26, Part 3, Chapter 4 of the California Health and Safety Code.

I can't find where state law gives the BAAQMD the authority to interpret or hold up the rules which they do have the authority to promulgate. In fact I think by adding the words in Regulation 6, "and has been approved in writing by the APCO" they may have tried to expand their authority by rule-making beyond their legislative mandate.

At least that's what I'm finding at the city and county level. The BAAQMD claims to have authority in nine - Marin, Sonoma, Napa, Solano, Contra Costa, Alemeda, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara. I decided to ask the counties what they think.

Napa County doesn't think so. I learned that an Isokern with a cat was approved in Napa County because it was on the EPA Burn Wise list. The BAAQMD has not approved the Isokern but EPA Qualified was good enough for the Napa plans examiner, John Taylor.

Alameda County and San Francisco allow wood-burning in historic homes built before 1942 which is not in the BAAQMD Regulation 6 and seems to be a more liberal exception.

Santa Clara County still has a 1990 Ordinance on wood-burning appliances that predates Regulation 6 and Joe Takacs, the building inspector, said he must follow the county rules - not the BAAQMD Regulation 6.

So does the BAAQMD have any authority over the city and county building officials? Do the city and county officials even know about Regulation 6? Maybe we should help the cities and counties write their own new rules and ignor the BAAQMD. See our recommendations.

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