A Public Nuisance

Legally speaking, a "nuisance" is an annoyance imposed upon you by someone else in a way that substantially interfers with your enjoyment of your property.  Noise, dust, smoke, and odors are all things that qualify as a public nuisance.

Sound familiar?

If you're a neighbor of the proposed Wal-Mart construction site and are suffering a nuisance, let the appropriate party know.  In this case, for dust, smoke and odors, at least, the appropriate party is the South Coast Air Quality Management District.  Public nuisances violate Rule 402 of the SCAQMD.

The AQMD website provides the following guidelines in reporting a nuisance:

Describe the air quality problem
If you smell a strong odor or see a lot of dust or smoke in your neighborhood, think of ways to describe the emissions and try to identify their source. For example, try to describe if it smells like rotten eggs, spoiled cabbage, burned plastic, ammonia, chlorine, garlic, asphalt, or some other familiar material.

Report the problem to 1-800-CUT-SMOG (1-800-288-7664)
Next, call 1-800-CUT-SMOG to report your observations.  AQMD accepts air quality complaint calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  During business hours (7 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., Tuesday through Friday) your call is answered by an attendant.  During non-business hours an automated voice system will prompt you for the following information:

  • The time the air quality incident occurred and whether it is continuing at the time of your call
  • The nature of the air quality complaint -- smoke, dust, odor, or other*
  • Whether you have experienced this type of air quality problem in the past
  • The wind direction, if known
  • The name and address of the alleged source and the type of operation, if known
  • Your name, address, and phone number. 

This information is kept strictly confidential.  Although we accept complaints from anonymous callers, inspectors cannot contact such callers for additional details or to advise them of findings, if any, from follow-up investigations.

If you have your cell phone handy and observe a violation as you drive by the site, CALL!  If you have a camera handy, TAKE A PICTURE!  But, what ever you do, REPORT THE VIOLATION!  Your city is not willing to protect your health, safety, and property.  It's up to you to demand action!