WatchSonoma Watch

Sonoma County residents get 108 ‘Spare the Air’ warnings


Sonoma County residents were slapped with 108 of the 346 warning letters issued during the Spare the Air season that ended Wednesday.

That was the most of any jurisdiction in the nine-county Bay Area.

When the Bay Area Air Quality Management District catches someone violating the rule, a warning letter is issued. A second instance will result in a notice of violation and a $400 fine.

Two Sonoma County residents were fined $400 for a second violation, said Aaron Richardson, a district spokesman.

Overall, the agency issued 15 Spare the Air bans, the most in five years. The high number of alerts, during which home wood fires are prohibited, was brought on by dry, cold, stagnant weather that trapped air pollution throughout the Bay Area.

Also, there were 10 days that exceeded the national air quality health standard and another nine days that nearly exceeded the standard.

Some 409 complaints for possible Spare the Air violations were issued in Sonoma County. There were 3,777 for the entire Bay Area, significantly more than the 1,453 complaints in 2008-2009; 2,355 in 2009-2010; and 1,373 a year ago.

Still officials said there is less wood-burning taking place.

“It was a tough winter for air quality and public health, but things could have been much worse,” Jack Broadbent, the district’s executive officer, said in a statement. “Wood burning overall is decreasing, but we still see unhealthy levels in certain neighborhoods throughout the Bay Area.”

Air pollution from wood smoke in the Bay Area has decreased 15 percent in the past five years based on new air quality monitoring data, officials said.

The agency said that wood smoke is the largest source of Bay Area wintertime air pollution and contains carbon monoxide and particulate matter. The latter is linked to respiratory illnesses such as asthma, bronchitis and lung disease.

Though the season of Spare the Air alerts has ended, the wood-burning rule requires year-round that residents who burn in a fireplace or outdoor fire pit burn dry, seasoned firewood rather than garbage, leaves or other material that causes excessive smoke. Those who violate this provision can still be ticketed throughout the year.

17 Responses to “Sonoma County residents get 108 ‘Spare the Air’ warnings”

  1. Commonsense says:

    This is unnerving. Where is the science that supports this kind of intrusion on private property rights and personal liberties? Seriously, I would really like someone to point out to me the factual basis for this kind of intrusion.
    And, how are they determining the reliability of these “reports” of usage? Is there a hearing where testimony and evidence are presented or are they taking every report at face value and issuing a ticket? This is truly scary on all levels. Man has been burning wood for heat and light for centuries (it’s what initially set us apart from other species if history can be believed) and now burnig wood in your own home can only be done with the permission of a local governmental agency??? I understand the desire to control large amounts of industrial smoke, but really, we need to control a person or families use of a home fireplace (which in these times could help relieve the cost of heating a house)???

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  2. Smokeghost says:

    Well done Environmental Lawyers you have found a job using the fabricated statistic-based scient-ish environmental curriculum from the EPA. You do realise it’s politics and law throughout, and if you tried to have a case against anyone they’d ask you to show evidence that the reasons for these days are actually worthwhile. I don’t mean showing cost benefit analysis junk epidemiology studies either – I mean showing real science with toxicology evidence based conclusions. You are working for global energy markets – these energy policies ruled by the already monopolised energy producing/ trading polluters you cannot do anything about. They pay for your employment. You want people to get fed up with these spare the air days and switch their heating to electric or gas because apparently those industries are cleaner on the environment than burning natural seasoned, sustainable and plentiful – carbon neutral wood. Self sufficient too. Policies, rules and energy monopolies with the domestic market paying the price instead of the globalizing cock-sure, profit hungry electricity and fossil fuel CEOs. They want all on a smart grid. They want all to be dependant on their product.

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  3. steve humphrey says:

    What was originally founded in 1955 to control and regulate excessive pollutants and smoke from factories and open burn pits for refuse (no doubt a good thing) the Bay Area Air Quality Management District has grown to encompass all aspects of our personal lives and liberties. Not because it makes the environment any better, but because it makes their jobs secure while growing the bureaucracy they protect. It’s high time to limit their scope, particularly when it comes to heating our homes.

    Thumb up 39 Thumb down 3

  4. Canthisbe says:

    “They seem to want to protect us from ourselves”,
    Not so much really. It’s mostly about having the power to take your money and pay themselves and their cronies.

    Thumb up 31 Thumb down 4

  5. Steveguy says:

    Un-elected Boards, Agencies and Commissions.

    Remember a few months back when the SMART Board declared that they had Ordinance power ? EVERY Agency wants the power to make it’s own rules and fines, to justify their department.

    They seem to want to protect us from ourselves, but who is protecting us from them ?

    Thumb up 32 Thumb down 3

  6. Tin Foil Hat says:

    And so it begins…Neighbor against neighbor!

    Thumb up 25 Thumb down 3

  7. Jim Bennett says:

    Another amazing coincidence.

    Another aspect of our ICLEI infested local government that’s simular to 1930′s Europe.

    Implementing Georg Hegel’s dialectic;
    Contrived ‘problem’.
    The synthesized ‘Solution’.

    Another step toward dependence, control,
    neighbors ‘turning in’ neighbors.

    It was a ‘tough winter for air quality’ because they are spraying us with tons of crap, then they have the nerve to restrict the people over air quality and ‘health problems’ they created.

    Yes, burning plastic should be prohibited.

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  8. NoQuarters says:

    WoW only 346 people in the bay area with cohonies who excercise thier rights that the State of California seems to violate its taxpayers base.

    Hey you State capital people what does your budget and illegals have in common?

    BAAQMD, SWRCB and CARB need go the same way as redevolment

    Thumb up 29 Thumb down 6

  9. Grapevines says:

    Bay Area Air Quality Management District? Smoke-Nazis by a different name is all this is. No matter how pretty the dress or how much makeup you use, when you put it on a pig you still end up with just a pig.

    Call them by their true name, Smoke-Nazis!!

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  10. A New Day says:

    This is all part of the war on the citizens and taxpayers of California and Sonoma County by the new age gestapo thanks to the progressives and maxists who run this state from Sacramento and Santa Rosa.

    Thumb up 36 Thumb down 7

  11. turista says:

    Refuse to pay and demand a jury trial then try to get national attention.
    These power crazed lunatics need to be stopped.

    Thumb up 29 Thumb down 3

  12. Stands with a fist says:

    Liberalism,Socialism,Marxism or Communism
    its all a lie.
    I wonder if this is how Germany progressed in the 1930′s?We know all about the brownshirts that would snitch on their neighbors.We also know they hated the rich.
    How FAR are WE going to let them go?
    Time to take a stand.

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  13. Dave Madigan says:

    Save money on firewood…burn the warning notices from the Air Quality idiots.

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  14. Follower says:

    So much for “Split wood not Atoms”!

    Of course that was from a time when “Human Caused Climate Change” was ushering in the next “Ice Age”.

    My how times have changed!
    …maybe “twisted” might be a better word.

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  15. Money Grubber says:

    To Jim & John Lennon:

    Did you see the news item yesterday that there is a debate going on in one California city (can’t recall the name) where the government is actually so delusional that they figure they have the legal right to prohibit a property owner from smoking tobacco in HIS own back yard?

    Many of us can see how the government which once served the voter now lords over the voter and demands obedience in all matters.

    You won’t find that in the Press Demo. Google it.

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  16. Jim says:

    It stuns me that BAAQMD and CARB are allowed to invade my house and tell me how I can heat my house. I legally purchased wood, have a legal fireplace but must seek government approval to live comfortably. Isn’t the CA utopia wonderful?

    The media ignored the complete lies CARB put out related to “particulates”. When Mary Nichols was confronted with the fake credentials of the “PhD” (Tran) and the false science used to put truckers out of business, she shrugged and said “I’m not elected, I don’t care”. And IDIOT Arnold still allowed CARB to put truckers out of business.

    Thanks to all the snitches in Sonoma County. It is nice to know your neighbor reports you to the Gestapo. The non-elected BAAQMD is paid from MY tax dollars to fine ME for legally heating my home. I had NO say in this useless waste of taxpayer money. What a great way to generate goodwill among the people. Turn the people against each other while the government lives like kings on benefits and salaries paid for by them.

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  17. John Lennon says:

    Bay Area Air Quality Management District……… Another unneeded separate government agency to rob tax payers. The the first 5 minutes of a forest fire negates anything these people have “accomplished” all year.

    Craziness and the fleecing of taxpayers

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