"We have to do something to clean up the air. We know Chico's the primary area we're targeting and the city council is supporting the fact that they want clean air" said Gail Williams, senior air quality planner. And city council members finalized that support Tuesday night in a meeting, with a five to two vote in favor of a mandatory wood burning ban on days when air quality is low. The ban mostly targets older modeled wood stoves which produce excessive amounts of smoke " We have a serious air pollution problem in Chico in the winter time between November and February. We basically have a valley bowl and when we have inversion layers, the residential wood smoke builds up and gets up to really dangerous levels" Williams explained.
The ordinance will place restrictions on when older wood stoves and non EPA approved fireplaces can be used, but not everyone agrees with the ban. city councilman Larry Wahl told Action News he feels the ordinance is an invasion of privacy. Chico residents are fully capable of checking the quality of the air before they light, and the ordinance is an over reaction. Both he and councilman Mark Sorenson voted against it. But Butte County Air Quality representatives say the ordinance is needed and regardless of the type of stove, anyone can burn a clean fire. " Heat, air and oxygen, and if you keep those going you're gonna have a good fire" Williams said.
The ban would not apply to those who rely on an older wood stove or fireplace as their primary source of heat, and would also not apply to residents who do not have access to gas. The city also has yet to decide who will monitor and enforce the ban. It's expected to go into effect late next year.