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City Eyes Anti-Idling Ordinance To Reduce Pollution

Joey Palacios
Texas Public Radio
Doug Melnick, Chief Sustainability Officer for San Antonio address a committee on the city's comprehensive plan Tuesday.

The idling of large vehicles could be a ticketable offense in San Antonio under regulations being considered by the city. The city is trying to find a way to improve air quality ahead of new regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The driver of this bus idling in front of City Hall and Main Plaza could receive a ticket under the proposed five-minute idling ordinance.


Doug Melnick, chief sustainability officer for the City of San Antonio, says the ordinance would apply to certain vehicles weighing over 14,000 pounds.


“It could be a small delivery vehicle, it could be a bus, it could be an 18-wheeler, there’s a whole list that could be impacted.”


Large, heavy trucks account for 44 percent of vehicle pollution. The San Antonio area is expected to reach non-attainment status for air-quality when the EPA releases new guidelines in 2017.


“I think that the big question is ‘Where do we land?’ Is it marginal, is it moderate, we’re trying to be as marginal as possible.”


The city would target areas like truck stops, schools, and hospitals for long periods of idling and post signage. Melnick says the ordinance is just the first step in preparing for better air quality.


“The city, as well as regional partners, other municipalities, it’s not something the city can do alone."

Bexar County passed a similar measure last week.  The San Antonio City Council will vote on the ordinance next month. If passed, it would take effect in January.


Before the vote, the city is asking the public for input on the proposed ordinance. Comments are being accepted by letter, phone call or email through Tuesday, May 31. Details of the proposed ordinance can be found here.    

Letters can be submitted to the Office of Sustainability at 1400 S. Flores, San Antonio, Texas 78204, emails can be sent to liza.meyer@sanantonio.gov or by phone at (210) 207-1449.