100s Of Spare The Air Scofflaws Turned In By Neighbors

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – The Bay Area could be in for another holiday weekend of no fires in the fireplace. Air quality officials are ready to crackdown after too many people ignored calls for voluntary, as well as mandatory restrictions on wood burning fires over the Christmas weekend.

More than 400 people called in to complain about neighbors burning wood when they weren’t supposed to, 77 of those cases could result in violations, and if they’re repeat offenders it could cost them a $400 fine.

“We use those complaints, and look for areas where we’ve got reports of the most burning. That’s where we direct our inspectors,” said Lisa Fasano, spokeswoman for the Air Quality Management District.

KCBS’ Holly Quan Reports:

She said that they’ve seen 2,200 complaints since Nov 1st. Monday’s air was so bad it rivaled conditions seen during the 2008 wildfires.

“We’re seeing that kind of blow out where the breezes are coming up and we’re cleaning out this week, but as we look at the long range forecast, it’s looking like Friday may be a recommended no-burn day and we may have to call a no-burn day for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day,” said Fasano.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

More from Holly Quan
  • Cyndy Frease

    This is stupid, like my mother said, PG&E should lower their rates on no burn days, because we need to run our heater, instead of our fireplace.

    • Valleyboy

      You could upgrade your furnace to a 90% furnace, or install a modern, high-efficiency fireplace, or insulate your house better.

      You don’t need to wait for a subsidy. You can create your own discount any time
      you like.

    • Michael

      I completely agree with you!

  • PG and E

    I am in my 30’s have had asthma my whole life. I don’t mind people using a fireplace for warmth. This is the goverment wanting you to pay a corporation for heat, PG and E. This is stupidity.

    • Valleyboy

      By the way, you DO know that you can save on gas heating by insulation your house better OR by upgrading your furnace to a 90% furnace.

      You do know that, right ?

      I don’t care to pay “the man” either, so I insulated the life out of my house. It’s WAY cheaper to heat my house, and more comfy too !

    • Valleyboy

      I don’t either. The problem is that the sheeple are using their 1950’s fireplace for warmth, a fireplace that was designed for appearance, not for warmth. These are about the least effective way to heat a home.

      Upgrade your fireplace to current codes, and you don’t have to deal with these restrictions. AND you burn a lot less wood that way too!

      • Guapi

        No the problem is YOU. Leave us decorative fireplace lovers alone!! We’re not hurting anyone. If you really want to do some good… Go issue a Spare The Air alert at the perfume counter at Macys!

      • Valleyboy

        GUAPI:>>No the problem is YOU. Leave us decorative fireplace lovers alone!! We’re not hurting anyone.

        As long as you don’t USE your decorative fireplace, you aren’t. As soon as you USE it, you are polluting air which is NOT YOURS to pollute.

        You can’t just take other people’s air and use it for whatever you want anymore than you can go build your house in the public park. Just because it’s a public good doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want.

    • JIm Mourgos

      I guess you don’t know that PG&E’s rates are regulated by a state agency, the California Public Utilities Commission.

      • jj

        Whose pockets are the PUC regulators in again?

  • Guapi

    The MEDIA can be such a patsy sometimes. Did they even bother to verify that “400” Mrs. Kravits’ ACTUALLY called in to snitch on their neighbors of many years? I highly doubt it. This is the elitest BAAQMB making up a story to get the sheeple to comply with their environmental wacko demands.

    • Valleyboy

      How would you suggest any reporter verify these numbers ?

      This is an agency reporting on calls directly to that agency. Nobody else has these numbers.

      I’m still waiting for your suggestion. and I’m still reporting my neighbors.

      • Guapi

        That’s the point… CBS San Francisco is publishing an unverifiable story (provided by a highly manipulative agency) as fact. But I say te BAAQMB lying to shape public opinion. And the media is bending over backwards to assist them.

        1. Issue some Spare The Air Alerts one year.
        2. Issue a few more the next year.
        3. Issue a few more the year after, and include a holiday or two.
        4. Issue A “Voluntary S-T-A Alert” to prod the poor fools into compliance.
        5. Clain the poor fools did nothing to honor the benevolent BAAQMB’s request.
        6. Claim that 400 fine citizens called in to rat out their fire burning neighbors.
        7. Get tougher and issue more S-T-A Alerts.
        8. Claim that federal funds will be lost if the poor fools don’t comply.
        9. Monitor the news comments and respond when the poor fools get wise to us.
        9. Rejoice because we, the BAAQMB, are drunk with power. Wahahaha!!!!

      • Valleyboy

        GUAPI: You’ve got all sorts of points, let’s see if I can address some of them:

        >>That’s the point… CBS San Francisco is publishing an unverifiable story (provided by a highly manipulative agency) as fact.
        That’s what ALL news “producers” do. Almost NONE of them these days know anything about anything. When there was a story about Google going to solar power, I emailed the reporter, and she didn’t know that Larry Page and Sergi Brin, Google’s founders, had recently invested in a solar panel maker. She hadn’t even read HER OWN NEWSPAPER !!

        Most of the news places just get a press release, and reformat it to fit into the space they have. This includes business press releases, and every other group without any particular bias: Sierra Club, NRA, Republican Party, Democratic Party whoever. The bias is toward doing whatever is as cheap as possible, i.e. fast fast fast, and using the cheapest possible labor source, i.e. intern’s, part-timers.

        Af Faux News is even worse than the mainstream media !

        >>1. Issue some Spare The Air Alerts one year.
        >>2. Issue a few more the next year.
        >>3. Issue a few more the year after, and include a holiday or two.

        Um, I don’t think so. I can to the valley in 1984, and the number of Spare The Air alerts has decreased quite a bit over that time frame. That is both my personal experience and that’s also what BAAQMD wil tell you.

        >>8. Claim that federal funds will be lost if the poor fools don’t comply.
        Well, that is actually true.

        >>9. Monitor the news comments and respond when the poor fools get wise to us

        Uh, I haven’t seen any BAAQMD response to the news comments.

        >>9. Rejoice because we, the BAAQMB, are drunk with power. Wahahaha!!!!

        I have no idea what you are talking about. You can get more power than BAAQMD by changing lanes on the way to work and forcing some stranger to change lanes to avoid crashing with you. They have very specific powers, and the powers they have are extremely limited. I would think it would be really really frustrating to work at BAAQMD. This fireplace bruhaha has been going on for nearly 30 years with only limited improvement.

    • Valleyboy

      I don’t have a problem reporting my neighbors of many, well not THAT many years. Only 19, so far.

    • JIm Mourgos

      What’s a “sheeple”?

      • Sheeple

        People who are dumb as sheep and follow even of a cliff. Sheeple.

  • Booga

    Must of been neighbors doing payback to those who been blasting their stereo late at night :)

  • Roger Coryell

    The paper (or is it SFGate) seems to just uncritically accept this number. Sigh. That’s not journalism

    Declaring a Spare the Air day on Christmas is nonsense. And the BAAQMD is on a power trip, seriously exceeding any (legally questionable) mandate and authority they might feel they have.

    • Valleyboy

      Why should I uncritically accept your comment ?

      Generally, yes, it’s San Francisco, the journalism standards ARE lower, BUT

      How do you suggest this reporter verify or confirm this number ? This is an agency reporting on it’s own internal numbers, on data that only originates with this agency, on calls that go directly to this agency.

      What is your suggestion ?

      • Guapi

        I’m glad we can agree that the journalism standards are lower!

  • bob

    Reminds me of Nazi Germany. But then again with politicians like Nanzi Pelousy representing California that’s what I’ve come to expect.

    • Chilebrown

      I agree bob. Turn in your neighbors like Hitlers Youth. I do not think that is a bad analogy. What is next? If you burn you will be round up and put into a ghetto or possibly a concentration camp. I am a little afraid to leave this comment because the Spare the Air board will look up my address and hunt me down. My father served in WWII to rid us of governments like this.

      I will do everything in my power, vote, write my representative and do everthing lawfully to oppose this government intrusion of life.

    • Michael

      Agreed! This is an intrusion in our lives and another form of government control and income!

  • Bambi

    Agree, agree, agree and agree with most of the comments. The media and the government are a bit too cozy with each other. So much for the media being a watchdog. Creepy little government lapdogs most of the time. And I agree with the comments earlier — I’ve been asthmatic all my life as well and I have no problem with people burning wood in the fireplace either. I love it. I love the smell and need the heat. They ought to allow burning on sentimental favorite days like Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. They can ban all the other days if they want, but the BAAQCB is begging for civil disobedience by banning burning over the holidays. I also want to know how are they going to prove any burning was coming from your household? Because unless they have pictures of smoke coming out of your chimney, how do you determine who was actually burning wood? A neighbor’s word is good enough to get you fined? Wow, they could be mistaken or out to get you for something else. I want to know how a person would fight such an accusation? Identifying infractions has to be a problem.

  • Josh Stewart

    Guess I’m the only one to disagree. Do any of you look at the hills or skylines from a distance and notice the heavy smog that is in our air? It isn’t just caused by driving, and burning of wood just exasperates the problem.

    • Booga

      Thats not smog you see, its fog

      • Valleyboy

        Yes, curiously, the fog seems to originate starting at my neighbors chimney.

        Hmmm. Curious.

  • Ridi Culous

    You think this is bad, wait until the fart police start cracking down.

  • Marie

    Good job, comrades. /s

  • allswell

    I find it disgusting that a government agency depends on neighbors turning in neighbors for enforcement of its arbitrary rules. How did this agency get its authority anyway? Who voted for them and how do they get to dictate to everyone. Why are so many people so eager to report on their neighbors? There is something wrong with this type of policy. It sets a bad precedence. Smoky air seems to be the least of what stinks.

    • CookieMonster

      How did this agency get its authority anyway?
      The “tolerant” Left granted it to them.

      Who voted for them?
      The “tolerant” Left.

      how do they get to dictate to everyone?
      Because it has been decided that anything deemed good for “the environment” is more important than freedom.

      Why are so many people so eager to report on their neighbors?
      They have a sense righteous superiority because they have been taught to believe caring about the environment is the most important thing one can do. That will trump being a reasonable neighbor every time.

      This is the type of society created by decades of unchecked liberalism. Enjoy your freedoms while they last.

      • Guapi

        Isn’t this how the Nazis operated??? Get neighbors to turn in their neighbors.


    • CA-Vixen

      Agree. Agree.

  • Eco-Nazis Must Die

    It is precisely because of idiotic laws like “spare the air days” that I knowingly have not given a dime to any environmental organization for more than a decade. It’s the Sierra Club, Earth First, Greenpeace and all the rest that support this garbage.

    • Valleyboy

      I dislike the Sierra Club too, and I totally support these restrictions.

      Actually, you should have to upgrade your fireplace when the property changes hands, just like you have to upgrade your septic system. Then, there wouldn’t be any of this stupid whining.

  • Weej

    During the Cold War the East Germans had this down to a fine art. The Staqzi were masters at getting people to watch their neighbors and then inform on them.

    Same mentality here in “Liberal” California. You MUST think and act in the ways that The State has decided are in your (our) best interest. If not, you can count on your neighbor informing on you.

    Trust no one.


    The ban cover all wood burning, ignoring the fact that pellet stoves create little smoke and people spent a lot of cash to be green using them.
    “Pellet stoves are typically cleaner and more efficient than wood stoves.17 Technologies are used to ensure the best fuel‐to‐air ratio in the combustion chamber so that the fuel can burn completely.18 The combustion air is forced to go through the fire, releasing a maximum amount of heat to the room instead of letting it escape from the venting.19 If used correctly, pellet stoves produce very little smoke and creosote, the latter being the main cause of chimney fire.20
    Cost and Other Considerations Pellet stoves can be more expensive to purchase and operate than wood stoves. A pellet stove usually costs from $1700 to $3000.

  • Kcassidy

    Notice how they like to call these “spare the air days” on major holidays? Last year it was Thanksgiving, this year it is Christmas and maybe New Year’s. Unbelievable that we are letting these petty bureaucrats run our lives and using tactics straight out of East Germany and the USSR. Why aren’t these agencies the ones getting budget cuts?

    • tn

      Why?- Because it’s a sneaky form of job security. Create a “need” and fill it…

  • Otto

    Yeah it’s always the fault of “gubment”. We should all let the unregulated “free” market take care of everything!

  • Otto

    If I come to your front yard and take a dump, you would complain to someone, no? Then why shouldn’t I complain when people damage the air I breathe? One form of pollution is no different from the other. How about we stop whining about “the gubment”, and take personal responsibility about our actions and how they effect the people around us? If we did that, then people wouldn’t resort to passing laws in order to protect themselves.

    • Michael

      BS! You’re one of those nose, awful neighbors that we all despise! Go find yourself a life!

      • Valleyboy

        I don’t despise Otto. I’m glad he’s ratting out cave men people who like to poop in my air, and get indignant when they are called to take responsibility for their actions.

      • Otto

        Whatever. Go blow a donkey; hope hey find a lump in your armpit soon

    • CookieMonster

      Well for starters, my front yard is private property.

      So I guess we can look forward to the combustion engine being outlawed, since they also “damage” the air you breathe?

      • Otto

        There’s are limits to regulation. No one is advocating going to either extreme.

      • Otto

        Oh and don’t think for a minute that because your front yard is private property, that pollution from it on on it cannot be damaging to others.
        So I guess if I start burning tires in my front yard, the neighbors better shut up about it. Because if they don’t that meant they “hate freedom”, eh?

  • fmmt47

    400 more government informants just doing their job…zeig heil!!

  • hater

    Over 400 people snitched and only 77 of them we’re actually correct. The others didn’t know the law.

    Just be educated on topics that you choose to force on others.

    • Valleyboy

      Nice try. They don’t state the reason why 400 calls translated into 77 citations. For example, the inspectors may not have had time to get to the criminal before the fireplace went out, etc.

      Without better statistics, we are only guessing.

  • Jill

    Regulating heat!? We will soon not be able to wear winter coats. Democrats Enviromental cause my a$z.

  • bugsmom

    Pretty soon, we’ll be told to drive our cars only on odd days. Yep, it’s coming.

  • Cathy Jensen

    Until they start the regulating the air in China…it is unlikely that our “sparing the air” will have much of a global impact. And I DO think it forces a change in a basic principle of privacy when we can report on our neighbors…hire someone to drive around and look but don’t ask people to tell on their neighbors…that becomes a very slippery slope!

    • Valleyboy

      I don’t particularly care for neighbors reporting neighbors either.

      I think this should be regulated like septic tanks. You have to prove compliance or convert to city sewage services when you sell the house. No exceptions. The air would be a lot cleaner, and we would have all this whining about a right to pollute that nobody has.

  • Peter B. Towle

    “Nanny State” Nazis at it again! They(all these liberal pork barrel agencies) are those who gloat over neighbors who turn in their neighbors as did those who squealed on people hiding the Jews from Hitler’s Gestapo.

  • Valleyboy

    Actually, you should have to upgrade your fireplace when the property changes hands, just like you have to upgrade your septic system. Then, there wouldn’t be any of this stupid whining.

  • http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2012/01/03/steady-weather-pattern-to-prompt-more-bay-area-spare-the-air-alerts/ Steady Weather Pattern To Prompt More Bay Area Spare-The-Air Alerts « CBS San Francisco

    […] Related tags Air quality, Alert, Anna Duckworth, Burning, Fines, Fire, Fireplace, Pay, Smoke, Spare the air, Tickets, Winter var addthis_product = 'wpp-261'; var addthis_config = {"data_track_clickback":true};if (typeof(addthis_share) == "undefined"){ addthis_share = {"templates":{"twitter":"{{title}} {{url}}"},"url_transforms":{"shorten":{"twitter":"bitly"}},"shorteners":{"bitly":{"login":"cbslocal","apiKey":"R_a42469be25a4cd114f9641fad362d038"}}};}SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) –Two more winter Spare the Air alerts were issued over this past holiday weekend, and once again hundreds of complaints were made about people burning wood fires in their homes. […]

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