(Continued from April 1, 2005 Board Meeting)


Approve Guidance Document for Addressing Air Quality Issues in General Plans and Local Planning


The AQMD Environmental Justice Program is designed to protect the right to live and work in an environment of clean air, free of airborne health threats for all residents of the District. In 2002, the Board expanded the program to include the development of a model air quality element for local governments to consider as they develop or revise their General Plans. The "Guidance Document for Addressing Air Quality Issues In General Plans and Local Planning" provides a list of voluntary options for local governments to control air pollution and reduce health risks. The combined implementation of these strategies throughout the region will provide greater environmental equity and strengthen the local government partnership with AQMD to meet clean air standards.


Mobile Source: November 19, 2004, February 25, 2005, March 25, 2005, and April 22, 2005; Reviewed


Approve the guidance document as a voluntary tool to assist local governments in developing or revising air quality elements in their General Plans and local planning efforts.

Barry R. Wallerstein, D.Env.
Executive Officer


In September 2002, the Board introduced the development of a model air quality element as part of its enhanced environmental justice work plan to encourage local agencies to address air quality concerns in their General Plans, particularly those associated with land use decisions. Subsequently, AQMD contracted with two Councils of Governments to develop a user-friendly resource guide for cities and counties to update or add an optional air quality element to their General Plans.

In response to a series of public consultation meetings and presentations that began on the draft model air quality element (MAQE) in July 2002, AQMD staff received numerous comments of varied perspectives and insights. In response to comments, the draft MAQE was reformatted into three tiers (air quality goals, objectives, and suggested policies/strategies) to be more consistent with the format of General Plans. Also, specific air quality and health effects information was added to provide rationale for the suggested policies, particularly for those policies related to land use. Many of the suggested policies were reworded to emphasize that the appropriate mix and inclusion of any suggested policies, as they are adopted in General Plans or considered in land use decisions, remains at the complete discretion of local jurisdictions. Combined, these changes broadened the scope of the MAQE; therefore the document was re-titled "Guidance Document for Addressing Air Quality Issues in General Plans and Local Planning."


Clean air for all the residents in the basin cannot be accomplished by air quality agencies alone. Local governments have the flexibility and authority to address air quality issues through ordinances and General Plans that guide the development of local circulation systems, transportation services, and land use. Achieving the mutual goals of protecting public health and providing environmental equity to citizens in the district can only be accomplished through a strong partnership with the local jurisdictions. Many land use decisions made by local governments represent opportunities to complement air regulations in preventing or lowering adverse air quality impacts.

The guidance document is intended as a discretionary framework for local government decision makers and planners to consider in developing General Plan policies, particularly as they are related to land use. The ideas, technical information, and references presented in the guidance document are also useful for private developers, residents, and community organizations. The combined implementation of strategies across the district will strengthen local government partnership with the AQMD for cleaner air, and demonstrate the resolve of cities and counties in the district to provide environmental equity and protect the health of their residents. The guidance document is considered a "living document" that will be modified as appropriate to reflect the latest science on air quality and to address feedback from local governments on implementation issues.

Key Issues

Numerous comments were received during the public comment period and considered for inclusion in the draft final document. When this Board item was delayed from April to May 2005, staff met with stakeholders to discuss and resolve remaining outstanding issues. Several changes were made to the document and summarized as follows:

  • Statements were added to recognize the need for local governments to weigh and balance multiple issues, demands and concerns when making land use decisions;
  • To address existing incompatible land uses, options were added to consider possible relocation, recycling, redevelopment, rezoning, process changes, and incentive programs;
  • Relative to fugitive dust, the document has been revised to clarify that local government policies on dust control plans would focus on areas that cause chronic public nuisance dust problems or PM10 exceedances rather than broad policy implementation for all projects in the basin; and
  • To address concerns about the District or local governments potentially establishing energy efficiency standards, clarifying language was added to list examples of measures that can be voluntarily implemented to achieve energy-saving targets beyond those required by Title 24.

Future Actions

The guidance document is a living document that will be updated periodically to reflect the latest technical information and to address any implementation issues. Future AQMD actions include:

  1. Distribute the guidance document to local planning agencies and stakeholders, and continue outreach to local governments and COGs;
  2. Conduct outreach, including providing informational seminars and workshops or participating in professional conferences and meetings for local governments and other interested parties on how the guidance document can be used as a voluntary reference tool. AQMD staff will consult with councils of governments, local governments, trade associations, community stakeholders, and California Air Resources Board staff on topics to be presented. AQMD’s outreach efforts will closely overview the document components so that local government staff and other entities can be provided with a clear interpretation of the document’s intended goals and use. AQMD staff will also provide technical assistance to local governments upon request;
  3. Periodically revise the guidance document, upon Board approval, to:
  • update current air quality and health effects information, including MATES III data;
  • include examples of adopted General Plan policies, local ordinances, or measures for other jurisdictions; and
  • consider a four-tier format for consistency with state guidelines for General Plans.
  1. Serve as a clearinghouse for adopted air quality elements;
  2. Report semi-annually to the AQMD Mobile Source Committee for the first two years after the guidance document is made available as a voluntary reference. The report will include status of implementation, technical updates on air quality and control technology development, and number of local governments adopting air quality elements or amending air quality elements within their General Plans. Implementation issues, if any, will be identified along with staff recommendations for resolution; and
  3. Develop a web page to provide information that will provide resources and information that will assist local governments in addressing air quality issues.

Resource Impacts

Existing staff resources are adequate to continue the outreach effort to local governments, periodically update the guidance document, and develop and maintain a clearinghouse and a web page on local government-related air quality issues.

Attachments (9,658 KB)

  1. AQMD Staff Outreach to Develop the Guidance Document for Addressing Air Quality Issues in General Plans and Local Planning
  2. Guidance Document for Addressing Air Quality Issues in General Plans and Local Planning



Outreach for the Guidance Document graphic

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