Here's our full . Share your thoughts below.
"Many Davis residents experience significant air quality problems in winter months due to nearby residential wood burning. Davis currently has no mandatory restrictions on wood burning unlike most Central Valley cities and the entire Bay Area. What restrictions, if any, on residential wood burning would you support, or how would you otherwise address this problem?" -Sierra Club Yolano Group
The problem is that many Davisites burn wood in old, dirty devices. Traditional fireplaces are so inefficient they don't heat a room unless they've been retrofitted with a wood or pellet insert. Swapping out older wood stoves for newer EPA Phase 2 fireplace inserts and wood stoves that emit no visible smoke after heating up is part of the solution. We can and should find funding to help this happen. Many residents have shown an eagerness to shift to newer, cleaner burning stoves and inserts if given a little help.
Oregon had federal stimulus money for stove swap-outs, when will California find a source to help local air quality districts with this task. Regulations often seem to be heavy on the stick and thin on the carrot, which is part of the reason there is so much opposition to a mandatory wood-burning ban. The other part of the solution is to implement some form of a mandatory wood-burning prohibition on bad air days instead of the voluntary prohibition we have in place now. And finally we need to find a means other than law enforcement intervention to take care of nearest neighbor smoke effect.
My grandmother had COPD and my brother has asthma, so I am very sensitive to this issue. And I don’t doubt that there are instances in our community where particulate matter (PM) creates localized health concerns. However, as a whole, our air quality is not as bad as other air districts in the Central Valley and Bay Area, which is why the Yolo-Solano Air Quality Management District has not had to impose similar mandatory restrictions. This was reinforced by the work of the UC Davis DELTA Group for the city. This should caution our community against imposing community-wide mandatory restrictions – and attendant enforcement measures – on wood burning.
Now, that’s not to say the status quo is ideal, since, again, I do recognize that there are localized instances of air quality problems due to wood burning. We need to work with YSAQMD to provide incentives to property owners to switch out their old fireplaces. Providing more education to the public about the effects of wood burning – and encouraging neighbors to work with one another – would also be beneficial. Lastly, in particular instances it’s not clear to me why private nuisance law could not be utilized to curtail wood burning.
I support regional air quality policy and would like to see the Yolo Solano AQMD take action for the entire district. I realize that many think that the local air district won’t do that, but I would be strong advocate for a regional solution, and I would work to make it happen. I do believe that the first step voluntary action of “Don’t Light Tonight” has been a step in the right direction. My household participated in this voluntary program where we received the emails from the YSAQMD and abided by the “Don’t Light Tonight” requests.
Asthma is a serious issue, and many in Davis suffer from real respiratory issues, throughout the year, and not just in the winter months. We need to work on those air quality issues, and continue to strategize ways to reduce emissions, and continue to improve upon air quality.
I do support similar actions that the Bay Area AQMD/ or the Sac AQMD have taken, with their “Don’t Light Tonight” Program being mandatory instead of voluntary. Aside from the winter months/wood burning issues, there are other air quality improvement measures that I support, including reduction of gas lawn mowers and gas leaf blowers through incentive programs for switching them for electric equipment. A previous landlord of mine had a cordless electric mower for us to use; it was wonderful. We have chosen to not have a lawn and we use our small yard for fruit and vegetable gardens,(but still remember enjoying using the electric mower), and we appreciate not having to use leaf blowers or mowers.
Like the plastic bag bans, this tends to be a very divisive issue. Hopefully, the Yolo-Solano Air Quality Control District will come up with a plan to address this wood smoke reduction region-wide. Otherwise, I think it might make sense to adopt the Sacramento regulations, and to make use of their data and their warning day system in order to save money.
I do think that we should allow EPA certified wood-burning stoves in fairness to those who tried to be environmentally responsible citizens by investing heavily in what was then the most cutting-edge technology. We don’t want to discourage people from investing in environmentally responsible technology because they are afraid that their investments could be soon rendered useless by new laws.
Require all new buildings or major remodels to have EPA certified or equivalent inserts.
Require all new units that install fireplaces to pay a nominal fee that will fund a retrofit program.
Using the retrofit program, encourage and assist current homeowners to upgrade their fireplaces to natural gas or EPA certified (or equiv) inserts.
Set a time in the near future, perhaps 2015 where Davis will agree to abide by no burn days. Ideally, UCD could have a local monitoring station so that the no burn days would be determined based on our local conditions.
Ultimately, work towards the elimination of the old fashioned method of burning wood by incentives and education; I do not believe a blanket ban is the answer. If the voluntary and incentive based approach is found to be ineffective, I would be willing to revisit this issue.
To follow future candidate responses: