San Diego County launches new after-hours air pollution complaint program

Cars fill several lanes of a highway in San Diego.
HAYNE PALMOUR IV  U-T The San Diego County Air Pollution Control District is set to consider a proposed after-hours air quality complaint program.
(Hayne Palmour IV/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

County air pollution control district to hold public meeting Thursday


The San Diego County Air Pollution Control District is inviting public input on its new plan to handle after-hours complaints about air quality.

At a virtual public meeting, scheduled from 5-7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 20, on Zoom, district officials will explain the program, answer questions and receive input on the proposal.

State Assembly Bill 423 requires the district to evaluate and propose enhancements to its current process for receiving and responding to air pollution complaints, said William Jacques, chief of compliance for the district. He said the hope is to enhance public engagement.

The district’s complaint program investigates reports of odors, dust, smoke or improper asbestos removal submitted by the public, and it determines if district rules and regulations are being followed. Currently the district’s 27 field inspectors respond to complaints from 8- 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, averaging about 860 complaints a year.

After-hours complaints — about 15 percent of them — are handled by the city’s Department of Environmental Health and Quality.

The proposed plan would create a 24-hour complaint hotline with supervising air quality inspectors and field inspectors on duty. That would cost about $200,000 annually, according to officials.

“As we plan to expand engagement, we expect more complaints potentially down the road,” Jacques said. “This is to lay this groundwork and ensure that there’s an actual established program for us directly contacting and investigating after hours.”

The district also is working on a new website that will make air quality complaint information available to the public for the first time, but filers will remain anonymous.

If public feedback is positive, the plan would go into effect this year, Jacques added.

To participate in the San Diego County Air Pollution Control District’s public meeting Thursday, Jan. 20, visit For questions, contact the district’s Compliance Division at 858-586-2650 or