San Francisco Bay Area Air Quality Management looking to Ban Smoking and Outdoor Cooking

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by backyardsmokin, Jan 20, 2015.

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    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The booming popularity of outdoor kitchens among homeowners in the San Francisco Bay Area has an increasing number of their neighbors coughing and hacking from the smoke, leading air-quality officials to consider tightening rules on wood-burning pizza ovens and smokers.

    Residents like Noelle Robbins of Alameda are calling complaint lines and public officials to urge limits on backyard grilling and barbecuing.

    For Robbins, a 21-year resident of her neighborhood, trouble began last spring when a neighbor two doors down set up a meat smoker in his backyard. He would leave the smoker going six to eight hours, after dark.

    "We would wake up 11:30 at night with our bedroom full of smoke. And it would happen all night long," Robbins, 62, said. "Eyes burning, chest burning. We'd be trapped."

    The Bay Area Air Quality Management District enforces air standards for the nine counties and their 7.5 million people. Any new restrictions would apply region wide. The Bay Area currently observes "Spare the Air" days when wood burning is restricted.

    But this past week, air-quality district marked a record-tying 11 consecutive days in which smog-trapping conditions forced it to ban most wood burning. On three of those days, the air was so sooty that it fell short of federals standards.

    With dry weather patterns keeping air-clearing storms from sweeping through, "any small increase in particulate matter is throwing us over the edge" of federal clean-air standards, said Lisa Fasano, a spokeswoman for the air-quality district.

    The air problem is visible on those days, as a gray haze envelops the hills surrounding the Bay. Cold, calm and dry spells during Bay Area winters allow wood smoke to build up, creating conditions some experts and asthma sufferers feel can be as bad as secondhand cigarette smoke.

    A 2012 study of pollution in residential neighborhoods by the University of California, Davis found grilling with wood-derived charcoal created some of the most toxic smoke of all sources.

    In February and March, air-quality officials will hold public meetings on tightening the few existing exemptions for those days when wood-burning is banned. The exemptions include: letting people use wood fireplaces if that is the sole heating source and allowing homes and businesses to burn wood for all kinds of cooking, indoor or out.

    Fines start at $100 for first-time offenders, and can climb to $500 and above for repeat offenders.

    Around the country, cooking and home-improvement shows on television have increased the popularity of outdoor kitchens, including wood-fired pizza ovens, smokers and grills.

    In 2013, a survey by the American Society of Landscape Architects of its members identified outdoor fire pits, grills and outdoor kitchens and living areas in general as the hottest trends among their clients.

    Smokers "are pretty darn popular," confirmed Zach Dilgard, an employee at Barbeques Galore, which sells outdoor grills in Walnut Creek, about 16 miles east of Oakland.

    Gas grills are most popular because of their ease of use, but even with those, backyard cooks like to add charcoal or wood for taste, Dilgard said. "You tend to get a little more flavor" with wood and charcoal fires, he said. "Gas doesn't provide any flavor."

    Even with just a little wood-fired grilling in a neighborhood, backyard trees can trap smoke from outdoor cooking, making surrounding neighbors miserable, Fasano said.

    Berkeley and some other Bay Area cities restricted use of wood-burning pizza ovens a decade or more ago out of concern for air pollution. Nationally, however, federal and local agencies that have tightened wood-burning rules have tended to allow wood-fired cooking.

    Decisions on whether to toughen up the rules on backyard smokers and other wood-fired cooking in the Bay Area will come after the public meetings, Fasano said.

    For Dilgard, his home smoker will burn on, new rules or no.

    "If I have a glorious piece of meat for the smoker and it happened to be a Spare-the-Air day, I promise you, I'll still be cooking it in the smoker," Dilgard said. "What am I supposed to say — 'We're going to McDonald's instead, guys?'"
  2. I am thinking they need to regulate the real problem. If a smoker is causing a problem it is cooking crap that is so bitter a dog wouldn't eat it. It takes TBS to make good food. Yes you can smell it. But no your not going to be able to see it 2 doors down in a cloud.

    Happy smoken.

  3. Wow sound like a real problem, I guess to many people, businesses, cars, trucks and other stuff in a cramped area

  4. cmayna

    cmayna Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I live right in the middle of it.   Now have a   STA "Spare The Air" app on my iphone that let's me know around noon on any given day if the next day is banned.   Even if it is, according to the officials, since I am using smoke to cook food, I'm allowed to smoke on the Spare the Air day, but I try not to just to avoid getting hell from the neighbors.
  5. Glad I don't live there. In the Boise area we get some pretty bad air at times. Inversions in the winter can be rough and some wildfires in the summer can make things nasty. Still have not tried to ban outdoor cooking yet.
  6. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Exactly----Lets Ban "Billowing White Smoke"!!

    Ruins the meat anyway!!

    TBS is the only way to go!!   And they can't outlaw what they can't see!![​IMG]

  7. red dog

    red dog Smoking Fanatic

    I have the opposite problem. The neighbors smell smoke and come lookin for food. Specially Case up there in Bend![​IMG]
  8. I live just out side of this area, but I commute in to there for work and I grew up there as well.  To me this is just ridiculous. If the cops came for me, I would just bribe them with what I got in the smoker. 

    To me these people complaining are the raw vegan, Pius driving, "my farts don't stink", over-bearing, over protective, I am better than you people that feel if things don't go their way they need to sue or have a law.  (just my personal opinion) If these people are that annoyed with the air/smoke/pollutants, they can encase their home and use a clean room filtration to block themselves from the outside world.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2015
  9. cmayna

    cmayna Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Dang!  Sure hope you feel better now......JK [​IMG]
  10. red dog

    red dog Smoking Fanatic

    I kind of have to agree with you. I lived in Antioch when I was a kid and had lots of family in St. Helena in the Napa Valley. St. Helena's gotten that way. You can't blow your nose without a permit. Most of the family has either moved to the Northwest or Lake County.

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