Air quality grants awarded to Sierra Commons, among others in Nevada County |

Air quality grants awarded to Sierra Commons, among others in Nevada County

Sam Corey
Staff Writer
Robert Trent, right, celebrating Sierra Common's 10th anniversary with JLove Jackson, left. The nonprofit was among several agencies to receive two grant awards from the Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District.
Submitted photo by Tom Durkin

The proposals sat before the Board of Directors of the Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District.

The board was deciding last month whether to allocate grants to projects that would purportedly reduce air pollution, ultimately deciding to award some of the money to local groups.

Nevada, Sierra and Plumas counties — the three counties in the air quality district — secured $241,000 in grants. Nine projects were funded — six from Nevada County.

The Fire Safe Council of Nevada County is set to receive an electric vehicle with help from the program and the Bear Yuba Land Trust will construct a public trail. Some of the other grantees include the Senior Citizens of Sierra County, Nevada County’s Sierra Commons and the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District.

Joe Fish, deputy air pollution control officer for the Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District, said some applicants never finished the application process. Others were rejected because they didn’t meet the district’s standards.

“There’s actually a lot of social service programs (that get funding),” said Fish, “but most people don’t know about them.”

Projects, under the AB 2766 Department of Motor Vehicles Fund, were not eligible for grant money if they didn’t reduce emissions from motor vehicles or reduce vehicle miles travelled.

Specific pollutants the management district is trying to curb include nitrogen oxide, particulate matter and reactive gases or hydrocarbons.


The nonprofit Sierra Commons, a business ignitor and co-working space, recently received grant funding for two new projects.

The first is a remote working center, targeted toward people who would otherwise commute to work. The space will include additional services for phone and video conferencing, said Robert Trent, executive director of Sierra Commons.

The Sierra Commons Remote Working Center will be part of the nonprofit’s existing infrastructure.

“This grant helps pay for a classroom improvement to the existing classroom, including heating and air, carpeting, making it more acoustic and other building improvements,” said Trent.

The district provided $24,000 of the $41,000 for the project’s total costs.

The second project is called a business critical response center, meant to be an emergency center for businesses if their main source of power has been cut.

Trent said the response center will include a redundant internet connection, and will have a generator powered by natural gas.

“We live in a remote area and rely on the internet to get our business done here,” said Trent, adding that a blackout could be “detrimental to businesses.”

Funding for the project includes $26,000 of the total $35,000 cost. The space would only remain open during an emergency.


The AB 2766 DMV Fund program collects fees from registered motor vehicles for local projects designed to reduce air pollution. The money is pooled between Sierra, Nevada and Plumas counties and divided up by population.

“The whole reason this DMV fund was set up was to provide additional funding and hopefully spur innovative projects,” said Fish.

The annual process begins in April and ends in September. This year’s grant money will be allocated in January. It can be returned if grantees want to opt out of their contract.

The program has distributed $8.1 million since July 1, 2001, according to Fish, and can go to any individual, public or private agency trying to reduce air pollution.

“We need projects that actually reduce pollution,” he said, “That’s the whole point of the grant program.”

To contact Staff Writer Sam Corey or call 530-477-4219.

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