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    Getting Oakland Back on the Board of BAAQMD

    By Rebecca Kaplan, Oakland City Councilmember At-Large–

    Fire season seems to grow longer and longer each year. With more fires, the quality of the air becomes more of an issue for us all, while East and West Oakland have been dealing with the disproportionate impacts of environmental racism in their air quality for generations.

    The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) was an essential part of Bay Area living this past summer and deep into the fall. As wildfires raged nearby since August, including in Alameda County, Oakland, a community heavily impacted by air pollution, had to sit idly by as policies and funding allocations were being made without an Oakland representative. 

    BAAQMD is a public agency that regulates numerous sources of air pollution in the nine counties of California’s Bay Area. BAAQMD also distributes many millions of dollars every year for programs and projects to improve air quality. It is governed by a 24-member board of directors composed of elected officials from each of the nine Bay Area counties. The board has the duty of adopting air pollution regulation for the region.

    The City of Oakland is the largest and most diverse city in Alameda County and one of the largest cities in the Bay Area, with an approximate population of 430,000 people. The people of Oakland suffer from disproportionate exposure to pollution and toxins, including a heavy concentration of air pollution that can cause asthma, cancer, and other devastating health outcomes. It is essential that all of Oakland, especially the communities that are impacted by air pollution most, be represented on the body that generates policy about the air pollution and funding to remedy it. It is essential that the City of Oakland has a seat on the BAAQMD’s board of directors.

    The City of Oakland has had representation on the BAAQMD Board of Directors in the recent past, and the City benefited greatly. I had the honor of representing Oakland for two years on the BAAQMD board of directors. During that time, I successfully worked with the board to adopt policies to clean up hard hit areas; to bring back funds to our communities for cleaner cranes, trucks, and clean-air shuttles; and much more. 

    Currently, there is no Oakland representative on the BAAQMD board, which makes vital decisions impacting our community. As air pollution and climate change continue to harm our residents, it is more important than ever that Oakland have a seat at that table.

    Councilmember At-Large Rebecca Kaplan was elected in 2008 to serve as Oakland’s citywide Councilmember; she was re-elected in 2016. She also serves on the Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC). Follow Councilmember Kaplan on Twitter @Kaplan4Oakland ( ) and Facebook ( ).

    Published on October 22, 2020