California State Auditor Report 2019-127

The San Diego County Air Pollution Control District (APCD) appreciates the opportunity to work with its stakeholders and decision-makers to implement all of the California State Auditor’s (CSA) recommendations. APCD recognizes that it can always improve upon its operations and has already implemented many of the audit’s recommendations. These steps demonstrate APCD’s commitment to advancing its mission to improve air quality in a way that promotes transparency and inclusion in its decision making.

Throughout its 65-year history, APCD has worked to improve air quality for San Diego residents. It has made progress towards achieving clean air and protecting public health.  The region currently meets federal health-based standards for five of the six principal air pollutants. The exception, like many California cities, is ozone.  Although total ozone-forming emissions have dropped by 58% since 2000, further reductions are necessary to attain the ozone standards throughout the region.  APCD has conducted and will continue to conduct workshops on its ozone attainment plan, which will be considered by the APCD Board later this year.

Regarding CSA’s finding related to the use of DMV fees, state law gives APCD discretion over how it uses vehicle registration funds. The use of this funding to support administrative activities of its permitting program is allowed under state law. However, APCD recognizes that by allocating vehicle registration funds to support its permitting program, it is missing opportunities to reduce mobile source emissions. While APCD’s primary role is to regulate stationary sources of air pollutants, mobile sources of emissions (such as vehicles and trucks) are regulated by the California Air Resources Board.

To address CSA’s permit fee finding, APCD will continue to monitor the economic impacts of the pandemic and, when conditions allow, ask its Board to allow increases in permit fees so that additional DMV fee funding will be available for mobile source emission reduction projects.

APCD has also taken steps to improve transparency and public participation by working to fill the seats on its advisory board and will develop a public outreach and engagement plan as recommended by CSA.