A nearly two-year initiative to improve efficiencies at the South Coast Air Quality Management District allowed the air pollution control agency to slash its permit application inventory in half, meeting the goal ahead of schedule and under budget, it was announced Tuesday.
“This is record-breaking. For the first time in 30 years our permit application inventory is the lowest it has ever been,” said Wayne Nastri, the AQMD’s executive officer. “This translates to speedier service for businesses and improved transparency for the public while maintaining protection for our air quality.”
In June 2016, the AQMD had 7,348 permit applications waiting to be processed. About half of those applications were more than 180 days old, prompting the AQMD’s Governing Board that October to approve a two-year action plan to reduce the application inventory by half and ensure timely permit processing in the future.
The effort included measures to improve permit processing capacity and efficiency through automation, permit streamlining, training and other operational efficiency improvements.
AQMD pursued the development of online permit processing capabilities for select high-volume equipment and smaller businesses. Permits for dry cleaners, for example, can now be processed online in as little as 45 minutes, according to the AQMD, which will soon deploy an online application process for gas stations and automotive spray booths.
The AQMD is the air pollution control agency for Orange County and major portions of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties. Within its four-county jurisdiction, unless exempt from regulation, any piece of equipment that emits or controls air pollutants requires a permit to ensure that emissions are minimized.
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