Dozens of Davis residents have been fuming lately over reports that the city of Davis is considering banning fireplaces in the name of clean air.
Though some discussions of possible wood burning restrictions have included a total ban on traditional fireplaces and wood stoves, the Davis City Council on Tuesday made clear that they were not interested in any immediate ban.
Instead, councilmembers said they would wait until they have more specific information on air quality in Davis so they can make a more well-informed decision. The council voted unanimously to continue working with Thomas Cahill, professor emeritus of physics at UC Davis, to gather more data on how smoke from wood fires impacts the air in town.
“Right now we have a dearth of information,“ said Cahill, a prominent air quality expert.
Cahill loaned air quality monitoring equipment to the city to gather data specific to Davis, and the machines have been recording since December.
“By late March or early April, you’ll have an extraordinarily large body of data,” he said. “We will be much better off to make a decision then.“
The data will be analyzed to determine how much particulate matter is in the air on particular days and how the data for Davis compares with information provided by the Yolo-Solano Air Quality Management District.
At that point, the decision for the city council will be what kind of policy to adopt on wood burning. The city’s Natural Resources Commission recommended that wood burning be banned citywide by 2010, except in EPA Phase II certified wood-burning stoves.
City staff had an alternative recommendation that did not include a ban. Instead, they recommended considering an ordinance that would require an upgrade to an EPA-certified stove for homes sold after a certain date. The staff recommendation also included provisions involving public education and community outreach.
The city council will take up the recommendations in April.
The issue has been a source of controversy for some time, with some citizens saying restrictions are needed to protect the overall health of the community and others arguing that a ban would be too restrictive. Most who spoke at the meeting said they supported Cahill’s suggestion for more hard science to back up any future policy decisions.
JEREMY OGUL can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.