Have you smelled it? An occasional putrid, rotten odor? Here’s what to do about it.


Contact the San Diego Air Pollution Control District (SDAPCD) 858-586-2650 and leave a voice mail or fill out their complaint form* and email it to their office. File a complaint every time you smell odor.

*Or, get a Nuisance Complaint Form at http://www.sdapcd.org/ and http://www.sdapcd.org/content/sdc/apcd/en/compliance-programs/air_quality_complaints.html

Fill it out and email it to apcdcomp@sdcounty.ca.gov.

Courtesy of University City resident Janis Deady:

SDAPCDWe all live in UC for a variety of reasons, and are the beneficiaries of incredible San Diego weather allowing us to be outside most of the year more than most. What gets me outside most is my garden and dogs. For you it may be an early morning jog, walking kids to school, BBQing, going to a park or simply going outside to your car to start your work day. In all cases we want to be able to take in a big breath of clean, fresh air.

In January 2015, early in the morning and late in the evening, I smelled a putrid, sour, decaying, rotten odor in our neighborhood that would dissipate as the sun came up. I posted on Nextdoor and confirmed others detected the odor too. Not knowing where to turn I communicated with our District 1 city council office as well as District 6 which is where the Miramar Landfill and Miramar Green Waste facilities reside, which is where I suspected the smell was coming from because it has a very distinct putrid, organic smell to it. After much communication with our council representatives offices they claimed to get the smell resolved and it subsided somewhat.

When the smell resumed in December 2015 and January 2016, worse than before, I was concerned since I have lived in the same University City house for 21 years and never had experienced this smell until my January 2015 complaint. I posted on Nextdoor again and noticed even more people who smelled the odor posting. I emailed our council reps, Sherri Lightner, the Mayor, his chief of staff, and everyone I could, to get someone to do something.

What I did not realize was that the SD Air Pollution Control District (SDAPCD) is the agency who investigates odors. They handle air quality complaints that are a nuisance or annoyance concerning emissions of air contaminants including smoke, dust, and odors.

According to the California Health and Safety Code, http://www.arb.ca.gov/homepage.htm, Section 41700 states that no person can discharge air contaminants that cause injury, nuisance or annoyance to any considerable number of persons or the public, or discharge air contaminants that endanger the comfort, health or safety of such persons. If a business violates this prohibition or any other air quality requirement, the District may issue a Notice of Violation to the business. If a Notice of Violation is issued, the business must take action to correct the violation and pay a monetary penalty to the District.

When you smell the odor you need to file a complaint DAILY. Every person in a household should file a complaint. As I understand it each person, per day, counts as a complaint when they tally the number of complaints to analyze the complaints compared to the population to assign importance.

You can file a complaint by calling 24 hours a day and leaving info at 858-586-2650. Or, get a Nuisance Complaint Form at http://www.sdapcd.org/ and http://www.sdapcd.org/content/sdc/apcd/en/compliance-programs/air_quality_complaints.html

Fill it out and email it to apcdcomp@sdcounty.ca.gov.

They are easy to fill out. One trick I have is to put a return address label on it where it asks for name and address so that I don’t need to fill that part out!!!

I am concerned because we have not had this odor in past years so something is different than in the past 21 years. Since the lifespan of the Miramar Landfill was recently extended by 30 years past its original life expectancy by our city officials, we need to get this fixed before it gets worse. We should view complaints as communication with an agency (SDAPCD) designed to help rectify the odor.

If we all file communication every time each of us detects the odor, hopefully it will be addressed. The bottom line is, if we all don’t band together to push this issue the smell may not get fixed and could be allowed to get worse. It could affect our daily lives, health, and even our property values so it should be a priority for everyone. Please let your neighbors know of the importance of the issue and where to file.

Note: Janis Deady presented her findings at the February University City Community Association monthly meeting.

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