SCAQMD's Governing Board adopts policies and regulations that promote clean air within its four-county area, the smoggiest in the nation. Federal and state law require that SCAQMD achieve clean air standards to protect public health. Before it makes decisions that affect local residents and businesses, SCAQMD must consider ideas and comments from the public. The opportunity to comment begins in public workshops and ends with a public hearing by the Governing Board where anyone can testify or present written comments. The Board usually meets at SCAQMD's Diamond Bar headquarters on the first Friday of each month.
Who serves on the Governing Board?
The Board has 13 members. Ten are elected officials. Of these, four are county supervisors representing Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, elected to SCAQMD's Board by their Boards of Supervisors. Six are City Council members representing the cities in each county (because of its size, Los Angeles County has two representatives, elected by respective city selection committees, and the City of Los Angeles has one representative, selected by the Mayor of Los Angeles). The remaining three Board members are appointed by state elected officials; one by the Governor of California, one by the Speaker of the State Assembly and one by the State Senate Rules Committee. See also: History of SCAQMD Governing Board Members (PDF, 142kb).
Why are procedures necessary?
Government agencies like SCAQMD must create an accurate public record of how they conduct the public's business. Documenting the process is necessary to ensure public participation, fairness and an accurate account to which you and other interested parties can refer in the future. Holding public workshops, recording oral and written comments, responding to those comments, publishing proposed rules and related reports, holding public hearings and voting publicly are all based on set procedures -- the building blocks of effective decision-making.
What happens at Board meetings?
Board Members discuss ways to improve air quality and establish effective clean air programs. The Board receives reports from SCAQMD's Executive Officer and staff who recommend new rules or rule amendments to help reduce air pollution. The Board also hears public testimony. After a public hearing, the Board may vote to adopt a rule as proposed or with changes. In some cases the Board may postpone a decision and instruct SCAQMD staff to develop a new proposal. In addition, the Board approves contracts, policies and various reports. The Board may also act on budget requests and personnel matters.
Agenda items that involve relatively simple administrative decisions are grouped in what is known as a "consent calendar." Board Members and members of the public may comment on any individual item on the consent calendar. When discussion is completed, the Board may vote on the consent calendar as a whole.
Also during meetings, Board Members report on activities of various committees set up to explore specific issues. Standing Board committees include Administrative, Legislation, Mobile Source, Stationary Source, and Technology. Additional committees serve as advisory bodies to the Board. These include the Home Rule Advisory, the Enviromental Justice Advisory, the Local Government & Small Business Assistance groups and the Mobile Source Reduction Review Committee.
Where you fit in
The public is very much a part of the Board meeting. Public workshops held weeks before the Board meeting give you the opportunity to learn about proposed rules and major policies. Written reports on rules or policies are available before Board meetings. Anyone can testify on any item pending before the Board, but it's best to prepare your testimony in advance. You can also bring up new issues during the open comment session at the end of every Board meeting.
Off the record
If a Board Member receives information off the record and it influences the Member's decisions about a proposed rule, the Board member must put that information on the record. If that information could substantially influence the Board's vote and was not available to the public before the close of public testimony, the hearing must be reopened to allow public comment on the new information.
How to testify at meetings
Fill out a "Request to Speak" card and give it to the Board Clerk. The Board Chairman will call your name shortly before you are scheduled to appear. If there are seats vacant, you may sit at the front of the auditorium near the speaker's microphone so you'll be ready to testify. Please limit your testimony to three minutes. The Chairman may give you more time if the issue is complex or if you represent a large group.
If you have prepared written comments along with your testimony, bring 25 copies with you and give them to the Board Clerk along with your "Request to Speak" card. Each Board Member will receive a copy. (Faxes are not accepted.)
After all testimony on a proposed rule has been heard, the Board Chairman closes the public hearing. Then Board Members discuss the issue and, usually, vote.
Be seated when the meeting is called to order. Fire laws don't allow standing in the aisles. If the auditorium is full, SCAQMD sets up nearby "overflow" rooms where you can sit and watch the Board meeting on video. If you have asked to testify to the Board, listen for your name to be called and then move quickly into the auditorium.
Continuances and changes
Due to intense public interest and lengthy testimony, the Board may choose to continue its discussion of an agenda item at its next meeting.
If significant changes are made to a proposed rule or rule amendment after public notice has been issued, the Board can hear public comment on the rule at the noticed hearing but cannot take action on the changed text. The Board must publicly summarize the text changes and continue the hearing to its next regular meeting or later. At the continued hearing, the Board must allow public testimony on the new text before taking final action.
In judging whether a text change significantly affects the meaning of a rule, the Board considers its impact on emission reductions and regulated facilities, the content of the original public notice and the possible alternatives.
Auditorium dos & don'ts
- SCAQMD's auditorium is equipped with a state-of-the art video system (video wall, projectors, etc.) advanced sound system (microphones, amplifiers, speakers, etc.), and audio/video recording capability. You may use this equipment to present your own material. If audio/visual functionality is required call SCAQMD's audio-visual support staff at (909) 396-2023. NOTE: To guarantee a clear image, text on overheads should be at least 14 pt on a white non-glossy background.
- If you need to bring an oversized chart to support your testimony, make sure it is not higher or wider that 18 inches. If it is, you'll need to get the Board Chairman's authorization to bring it into the auditorium. Generally, placards, signs or posters that are longer than 18 inches or have protruding sticks or handles are not allowed in the auditorium for safety reasons.
- Megaphones and bullhorns are not allowed in the auditorium.
How you can get help
For more information about SCAQMD's Governing Board, contact the Clerk of the Board's Office at (909) 396-2500.
Board meeting agendas and public notices are posted in the lobby at SCAQMD headquarters. Proposed rules and amendments, staff reports and other documents are usually available at the lobby Public Information Center.
If you have a computer, you can view Board meeting agendas and minutes on SCAQMD's web site. To receive Board minutes, committee meeting notices, or other documents by mail, send your request to the Clerk of the Board or call (909) 396-2500.
The Board meeting can also be viewed via webcast while it is in progress or thereafter.