The billowing smokestack is a common meme for stories about air pollution. But it can skew our sense of where such pollution comes from.
Far less obvious but more widespread are the auto repair shops, boiler rooms and backup power generators of San Diego. And much like their menacing brethren, they need a license to pollute the air.
That’s where the San Diego County Air Pollution Control District comes in. Issuing permits for stationary sources of pollution — translation: not mobile, like cars and trucks — is a big part of what the district does. But permits aren’t one-size-fits-all, and that’s by design.
The district has to balance the public health risks of commercial pollution against the cost of compliance. And that’s why the cost of the permit and time it takes to get one rises with the level of risk.