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New Rule Adds New Hurdles to Development

The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) is considering a new rule that would create an unprecedented, additional new hurdle for real estate development in Southern California. In addition to the already cumbersome and protracted local land use permitting process every major development must navigate, the District’s proposed SCAQMD Rule 2301 would impose a new, required approval process that has the potential to constrain the size of new real estate projects and further prolong the project approval process.

Required by the District’s 2007 Air Quality Management Plan adopted by the District’s Governing Board, the proposed rule is intended to reduce the amount of NOx (oxides of nitrogen) emitted from construction and the operations of new and redevelopment projects. NOx is a greenhouse gas partly responsible for the increasing concern over climate change worldwide. As proposed, Rule 2301 would require developers to submit a new compliance plan for projects that would generate NOx emissions above the to-be-designated thresholds. According to the latest version of Rule 2301 issued in April 2009, beginning in 2010, the rule would cover new projects that generate ten tons of emissions or more. Beginning in 2011, the rule would cover projects emitting four tons or more, with that threshold dropping to two tons in 2012.

The April 2009 version of the rule would require compliance plans from a variety of construction projects, ranging from a 75-unit single-family residential project, to 20,000 square foot retail projects, to 125,000 square-foot industrial buildings.

Since the April 2009 draft rule was issued, the SCAQMD District has retrenched based in large part upon a barrage of adverse comments from the business and local government sectors. While the final rule was supposed to be issued months ago and to have been adopted by the District in October 2009 by the Governing Board of the SCAQMD, that schedule has slipped. A much-revised version of the rule is expected to come out within the next month or so, and hearings on the final rule are now anticipated for June 2010.

Stay tuned! The Rule could have broad ramifications for an already battered industry.

Categories: Air Quality