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Clean air issues top Inyo agenda

November 8, 2011

Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District is kicking off a new program that aims to reduce harmful emissions by helping to replace smoky chimneys with cleaner units, among other projects. Photo courtesy wikimedia.org

County leaders will meet in Independence today to discuss clean air programs, attorney fees from a 2005 lawsuit and a request by Tecopa residents to hold a music and arts festival next year.
The board is scheduled to meet with Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District Clean Air Projects Program Administrator Lisa Isaacs at 10:30 a.m. to discuss the program.
According to a staff report, Great Basin recently established the program to reduce harmful emissions emanating from identifiable sources.
“Operated as a joint project with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, CAPP’s budget of $5.6 million has been funded by LADWP to offset the impacts of excess air emissions from the Owens Lake bed,” the staff report states.
Isaacs, a local resident, has been contracted by Great Basin to serve as the program’s administrator.
The money in the CAPP’s budget may be used to replace old wood-burning stoves and fireplaces with updated, cleaner systems, paving dusty dirt roads, erosion control, reducing vehicle road traffic and replacing old combustion engines with new, cleaner technology.
“Projects that can indirectly lead to air emissions reductions within the district will also be considered,” the staff report states. Those projects may include educational and interpretive programs, new trails that encourage residents and visitors to leave cars behind and municipal air quality management plan updates.
Proposals for how to spend Clean Air Projects Program funds are due in early 2012.
The board is also scheduled to hold a public hearing at 11 a.m. to discuss a request from Tecopa Entertainment, LLC to host a music and arts festival at Tecopa Hot Springs Resort April 27-29.
Tecopa Entertainment, LLC has submitted a permit application for the event along with the $100 application fee. The request has been forwarded to the Sheriff’s Department, County Health Officer, Public Works and the Parks and Recreation Department, which are all required to provide a written report with recommendations regarding proposed activities for the event.
Those reports, as well as any comments from residents will be discussed at the meeting.
County leaders are also scheduled to discuss increasing the County Counsel budget by $40,000 to pay off attorney’s fees stemming from a 2005 lawsuit filed by the Inyo Citizens for Better Planning.
According to the staff report, the ICBP initiated the suit against the county over the approval of three lot divisions in the McLaren neighborhood in 2005 and the adoption of a General Plan amendment addressing the definition of “net acreage.”
The county prevailed in Superior Court and the appellate court upheld the lower court’s decision approving the lot divisions and associated California Environmental Quality Act analysis, but overturned the county’s decision approving the CEQA negative declaration concerning the General Plan amendment.
On the order of the appellate court, the county rescinded the amendment.
Subsequently, the ICBP sought recovery of attorney fees and court costs in the amount of $190,739.69.
The Superior Court awarded the group $67,289,86 in attorney fees and county staff entered negotiations with the attorney for ICBP, and arrived at a settlement of $40,000.
The proposal before the board is to increase the county counsel budget in that amount to pay off the settlement.
The board will meet at 9 a.m. in the County Administrative Center. This meeting is open to the public and time will be set aside for residents to make comments to the board.

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