Santa Monica and other Westside and South Bay cities will have a strong voice in the region’s air quality under Senate Bill (SB) 886, which creates a 13th seat on the board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD). The bill , sponsored by Assemblyman Ted Lieu of Torrance and State Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod of Chino, was signed October 15th by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The bill recognized the uniqueness of the Westside and South Bay area and grants the area an exclusive seat on the board, a Lieu spokesman said.

“This is a huge win for anyone who cares about air quality in this region,” Lieu said. “The South Bay and the Westside include one of the world’s busiest airports, two of the world’s busiest seaports, and some of the world’s most congested freeways. We have really serious air quality problems that need action.”

The signing of the legislation completed a struggle that Lieu has been working on almost since the day he took office in late 2005.

“Until today, the South Bay and the Westside suffered from regulation without representation,” Lieu added. “Now we literally have a seat at the table.”

Formed in 1976, the South Coast Air Quality Management District regulates air quality and coordinates air policy for four Southern California Counties – Los Angeles Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino. Under previous law, Los Angeles County had three seats on the 12-member board: one chosen by the county Board of Supervisors, one chosen by the cities in the Eastern Sector of the county, and one chosen by those in the Western Sector.

Los Angeles, however, was considered a Western Sector city. Since a majority of the cities and a majority of the represented population was needed to win the seat, it was, de facto, a Los Angeles seat.

Assemblyman Lieu represents the 53rd Assembly District, which includes Marina del Rey and the Mar Vista, Venice, Del Rey, Playa Vista, Playa del Rey and Westchester areas of Los Angeles, as well El Segundo, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach and Torrance.