State and local officials in San Francisco on Tuesday celebrated the launch of California’s first Clean Air Center, where people will be able to go when wildfire smoke creates poor air quality that is hazardous to health.

The Clean Air Centers will be located at sites like libraries, schools and community centers and will be provided with ventilation system upgrades or portable air filters, according to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, which received $3 million via the California Air Resources Board for a grant program to fund the centers.

The first center celebrated Tuesday is at the Bayview Linda Brooks-Burton Branch Library on Third Street in San Francisco’s Bayview District. The program came about as a result of Assembly Bill 836, authored by Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, D-Oakland, and signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom back in 2019.

Officials plan to open more than 300 Clean Air Centers throughout the Bay Area, with approximately 75 percent of them located in vulnerable communities most affected by air pollution. (Image courtesy of BAAQMD/Twitter)

Emeryville Mayor John Bauters, who also serves as chair of the BAAQMD’s board of directors, said at Tuesday’s launch ceremony that the Clean Air Centers are needed as wildfires in the state have increased in frequency and intensity in recent years, calling them “a vital tool to protect the health of Californians from wildfire smoke.”

Bauters said the air district plans to eventually have more than 300 of the centers around the nine-county Bay Area, with the majority of them in underserved communities. Public agencies can apply to have their facilities become Clean Air Centers, which will be identified with a new logo also unveiled Tuesday.

More information about the centers can be found on the air district’s website.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

Dan McMenamin is the managing editor at Bay City News, directing daily news coverage of the 12-county greater Bay Area. He has worked for BCN since 2008 and has been managing editor since 2014 after previously serving as BCN’s San Francisco bureau reporter. A UC Davis graduate, he came to BCN after working for a newspaper and nonprofit in the Davis area. He handles staffing, including coaching of our interns, day-to-day coverage decisions and management of the newswire.