Southern California Considers Tougher Smog Checks

Proposed Partially Enhanced Smog Check would affect about 220,000 vehicles in suburbs around Los Angeles.

Published: 19-Dec-2001

LOS ANGELES, California, December 18, 2001 (ENS) - Stricter emissions checks for motor vehicles have been proposed for some Los Angeles suburbs as part of efforts to reduce air pollution.

The proposed change would require a more stringent Smog Check procedure in and around several communities including Murietta, Lake Elsinore, Perris, Idyllwild, Beaumont, Banning, Desert Hot Springs and parts of the San Bernardino Mountains.

"Motor vehicles are primarily responsible for roughly half of our smog-forming pollution," said Barry Wallerstein, executive officer of the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD). "Reducing vehicle emissions by enhancing the Smog Check program is one of the most cost effective methods available to us to clean the air."

AQMD is the air pollution control agency for Orange County and major portions of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties. The agency is proposing that vehicles registered in the affected communities would switch from a "Basic" to a "Partially Enhanced" Smog Check program.

In a Basic Smog Check, a vehicle's emissions are tested at two idle speeds. In Partially Enhanced procedures, a vehicle is tested on a treadmill type device, simulating actual driving conditions and providing a more accurate gauge of emissions.

The "Enhanced" Smog Check program, in effect across most of the metropolitan Los Angeles area, adds another test component for 15 percent of vehicles.

The proposed Partially Enhanced Smog Check would affect about 220,000 vehicles and could increase the price of a Smog Check test by $10 to $15. About 45 percent of affected vehicle owners already take their vehicles to Enhanced stations for convenience or other reasons, and therefore would not pay any additional amount.

The 90 Smog Check stations in the affected area would be required to use the treadmill type equipment, which could cost station owners $31,000 to $45,000 each. Of the 90 stations, 33 have already upgraded to the treadmill equipment for various reasons including improved emissions diagnostic capabilities, and would not have to purchase any additional equipment.

State law requires that cities be subject to an Enhanced Smog Check program when their population exceeds 50,000. The state Bureau of Automotive Repair, the agency responsible for the Smog Check program, suggested this fall that the entire region be placed under uniform Smog Check requirements, instead of the current patchwork of different requirements in adjoining communities.

After collecting public feedback at meetings this month, AQMD's Governing Board will consider asking the Bureau of Automotive Repair to implement the Partially Enhanced program in the proposed areas next year.

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