SCAQMD on city’s air pollution reduction efforts

The city has invested more than $1 million in pollution-reduction tactics, but it’ll take effort from everyone to help reduce the problem, officials with the South Coast Air Quality Management District told City Council last week. 

“Over 90% of our air pollution affecting our local air quality is generated from outside our valley,” Councilwoman Laurene Weste said during a City Council meeting July 9. 

The SCV sits between Los Angeles and Bakersfield, two of the areas ranking highest for the concentration of particulates from gasoline and diesel-run vehicles, according to a 2019 study by the Union of Concerned Scientists. 

The study found that the SCV’s exposure to air pollution from vehicles, or PM 2.5 pollution (fine particles that are less than one-10th the diameter of a human hair and pose health hazards), was between 50% to 75% below the state average.

Still, the AQMD often releases advisories for the area that the air quality is considered “unhealthy” for sensitive individuals.

To help mitigate this health hazardous issue, “the city of Santa Clarita and South Coast AQMD have partnered over the years on many, many important issues,” said Weste.  

A presentation to the City Council by Michael Cacciotti, governing board member of SCAQMD and South Pasadena city councilman, detailed that Santa Clarita has received $1.03 million in the district’s Mobile Source Air Pollution Reduction Review Committee funds. 

Recent dollars went toward the installation of eight electric vehicle-charging stations ($122,000); electric vehicle charging infrastructure ($49,400); compressed natural gas, or CNG, heavy-duty vehicle ($25,000) and a new CNG station ($843,115). 

Since 2011, SCAQMD has allocated more than $423,000 for clean air vehicle projects in the city, including for the Replace your Ride program, in which local residents have applied to receive up to $9,500 to trade their older, high-polluting car with a hybrid or electric vehicle or for public transit passes. 

The city has a current balance of nearly $600,000, according to Cacciotti. Future spending could go toward the design of the Vista Canyon Regional Transit Center, signal synchronization, an employee rideshare program and additional electric vehicle charging stations. 

Santa Clarita is the largest city testing out SCAQMD’s commercial electric lawn and garden equipment program, said Cacciotti. Residents can also do their part in reducing air pollutants by joining similar programs such as the furnace rebate program for families looking to install a new air conditioner this summer. 

For residents looking to learn more about these programs, get information on alternative fuel locations, receive real-time air quality alerts or report a complaint, Cacciotti suggested downloading the SCAQMD mobile app.  

The goal of partnering with Santa Clarita and other cities in the area, and offering residents incentives is so that “more and more cities like South Pasadena and others convert to cleaner vehicles and equipment that’ll hopefully (help air pollution in Santa Clarita) get a lot better.” 

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