Other Voices: $$ available to clean air, improve smog program
The Smog Check issue has been under continuous legislative debate since 1993. AB 2289 by Eng is an opportunity to improve program performance and public support.
We at the Clean Air Performance Professionals propose “reasonably available control measures” to improve California Smog Check performance. Consider a Consumer
Assistance Program (CAP) quality audit to improve smog check performance.
We propose using the CAP cars and funds to provide a random quality audit (or secret shopper) of smog check providers. Audits that result in the car’s not being in compliance should be handled similarly to the former Consumer Repair and Education Workforce program. The Bureau of Automotive Repair program did not fine the licensees nor did it involve coercion. But when the question of “what would you like to do?” was asked, the shop took care of business and usually elected to fix the car.
The average smog check failure repair is about $ 150 state wide. The motorist pays about the same at the average repair station and the CAP station. The average CAP repair is about $350. Many cars are not brought into compliance.
To level the smog check failure repair playing field so more cars meet standards after repair, the whole smog check market should be subject to a CAP random audit.
Around 1985, BAR started a “missing part” audit. In 1991 that program was stopped, The difference was a 300 percent change in result in finding the missing part.
When BAR ran less than one audit per station per year, the result was a change in behavior that started at more than an 80 percent rate, but moved to less than 20 percent rate of noncompliance.
The difference was a 300 percent change in result in finding the missing part. If the CAP audit was addressing the issue of repair compliance rather than just finding a missing part, the results may be the same or a 300 percent improvement in compliance. With the missing part program, a follow-up audit with increasing demands lift the stations no options but to find the missing part or be removed from the game.
There are huge inconsistencies from Smog Check station to station and with BAR representatives. For BAR to decide a car is not in compliance, rules of Smog Check must be clarified. Money is available for the CAP program. It can be used for contracted scrap and repairs, or some of the funds can be used to evaluate and support improved performance of licensed small business. The cars and funds are the same, but the results may be credit for 2,000 tons per day in pollution prevention credit in the State Implementation Plan, rather than our current credit of fewer than 400 tons per day.
The governor and state Legislature would get the credit for improved performance.
Performance improvements would be accomplished at a cost of less than $500 per ton. And program illusions would be reduced in one year.
Charlie Peters of Hayward is president of Clean Air Performance Professionals.
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