Smoke Emissions - Item#15 on 4/2/15 Agenda

Only City Council members and authorized staff are allowed to post on this message board.
David Chincanchan
Posts: 11
Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2015 10:54 am

Smoke Emissions - Item#15 on 4/2/15 Agenda

Post by David Chincanchan » Tue Mar 31, 2015 8:07 pm

Mayor, Mayor Pro Tem, and Council Members,

There have been a lot of questions circulating regarding Item #15 (Smoke Emissions) on this week’s Council Meeting Agenda. Therefore, CM Renteria has asked me to provide you with some information about the process he had envisioned as well as a brief outline of the changes that the resolution has undergone since it was first submitted.

As I’m sure you’re aware, the intent behind this resolution was never to put anyone out of business or to create unreasonable burdens for any business owner. It was, and still is, to protect the basic rights of families to comfortably live in and enjoy their homes without a vendor moving in and having a significant negative impact on their health and quality of life.

There may only be a relatively small number of families that are being affected, but for those residents and their children this is a real and very serious health issue that they have to live with on a daily basis. This issue is not about bad odors, casual weekend cookouts, or business owners that are good neighbors and respect the rights of the residents in their communities. This issue is about vendors that persistently and irresponsibly pump visible, thick smoke that contains particulate matter, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and sulfur dioxide, into neighboring houses with complete disregard for the residents and children that live there.

All that being said, CM Renteria understands the importance of some of the issues that have been brought up in the media recently regarding unintended consequences that the resolution could have. He expected and hoped that Council, working with City staff, would be able to address most of these concerns during the ordinance drafting process - while the resolution was simply meant to initiate this process. However, after listening to many comments and concerns, CM Renteria, in conjunction with the Co-Sponsors, has decided that it would be best to clarify some of these points in the resolution and to make the language a little more specific. The result of this is the Revised Backup for Item #15 that you received from the Agenda Office earlier today.

The changes reflected in the updated resolution are as follows:

1) The distance listed has been reduced from 150ft. to 100ft.
2) It has been made explicit that the distance will not be measured from the commercial property line to the residential one but rather from the physical location of the smoke-emitting stove or grill to the nearest residential property line.
3) The “smoke scrubber” mention has been removed to allow for more flexibility.
4) A direction for the City Manager has been included to initiate a stakeholder input gathering process to provide affected residents and business owners an opportunity to make recommendations and to incorporate these into the draft ordinance.
5) Finally, a direction for the City Manager has been included to present the proposed ordinance to the Planning Commission and Council’s Planning and Neighborhoods Committee for more thorough review.

Council Member Renteria is confident that passing this resolution and thus initiating a stakeholder input process with the resulting recommendations being considered by the appropriate commission and Council committee will yield a reasonable and well-thought-out product that works for everyone and an ordinance that fairly balances the interests of residents and business owners.

Thank you for your time,

Chief of Staff
Office of Council Member Sabino "Pio" Renteria, District 3

Don Zimmerman
Posts: 168
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2015 11:05 am

Re: Smoke Emissions - Item#15 on 4/2/15 Agenda

Post by Don Zimmerman » Mon Apr 13, 2015 3:00 pm

CM Colleagues: I'm copying message I received from an expert and personal acquaintance at TCEQ as a contribution to this topic:

Don: Just to follow-up on our conversation yesterday, it’s my opinion that the Barbecue restaurant should employ some simpler methods to improve the dispersion of smoke that’s potentially affecting their neighbors other than installing an expensive scrubber. First, I noticed that they have rain hats installed to prevent rain from entering their exhaust stack. This prevents dispersion of their exhaust smoke, thus, increasing the concentrations in the surrounding area. They can install other means to prevent rain from entering without obstructing the flow of their exhaust flow. One method would be to install a stack within a stack that accomplishes the same purpose. Another method would be to install a flapper device on the exhaust that opens when the exhaust fan is operating. A more complex method would be to build one fan powered stack that all other stacks would be vented into for better dispersion of the smoke. Any of these method should improve dispersion and not cost anywhere close to a scrubber.

These methods are all proven to work and are required by the TCEQ when they review permit applications.

I'm sure you and the city are aware of the TCEQ regulation that prevents anyone from creating a nuisance. It's 30 TAC 101.4. The city should insist that the TCEQ spend a little more time investigating. Basically, the TCEQ exempts food establishments but they are not allowed to create a nuisance. A pleasant odor is also a nuisance to someone who has to smell it all the time. There is no need for the city to write another regulation since this is addressed by State regulations.

Please call me if you wish to further discuss this matter. I’m sure you will have questions.
Don Zimmerman
Council Member District 6 (northwest Austin)