Letters: Sure, ban gas heaters. But why are we ignoring a larger air pollution problem?

Bay Area air quality regulators are considering adopting rules that would effectively ban the sale of new water heaters and furnaces that run on natural gas in less than a decade.

Bay Area air quality regulators are considering adopting rules that would effectively ban the sale of new water heaters and furnaces that run on natural gas in less than a decade.

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Regarding “Bay Area regulators look to impose sweeping ban on new natural gas water heaters, furnaces” (Bay Area, SFChronicle.com, Jan. 18): No problem, phase out gas-fired water heaters and furnaces so long as there is assistance for those who need it for new appliances and upgrading their electrical systems.

But before you do that, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District should address a much larger air pollution issue: fireplaces and wood stoves.

One third of wintertime pollution is from these two sources, according to the district. One third! Clear, cool nights are choked by wood smoke where I live and all around the Bay Area. Wood smoke is far more immediately dangerous than the noxious gasses from natural gas-burning appliances.

The vast majority of people who use their fireplaces have other methods to heat their homes. If someone does not need to use a fireplace or wood stove, they shouldn’t. It’s really that simple.

Ban their use now. Don’t wait.

Richard Davis, Oakland

Find the right balance

Regarding “An S.F. gallery owner sprayed a homeless woman? Be outraged, but don’t pretend to be shocked” (Opinion, SFChronicle.com, Jan. 11): I agree with the sentiment that vigilante justice is the result of a broken system — but its breakdown is not from the city’s inaction — but the action of homeless advocates who place civil liberties above the common good.

There is no regard here for the impact on the public good when someone sets up camp and creates havoc in front of someone’s home or business.  I work for a homeless nonprofit, and I know there are always shelter beds available on any given night — but the homeless aren’t required to accept temporary shelter. Again, their individual rights trump the public good.

San Francisco is just now crawling back from being rightfully slammed in the national media for its filthy streets and feeling of lawlessness. Without tourism and businesses bringing employees back to the empty offices, the city will fall flat on its face and there will be no funding for homeless services.

There needs to be a balance between rights and the public good or vigilante justice will remain a viable option.

Jules Bik, San Francisco

Cut the CEQA lobbying

Regarding “California legislators refuse to fix CEQA. Here’s how Newsom and the courts can take charge” (Open Forum, SFChronicle.com, Jan. 14): As a plaintiff in CEQA cases, it’s clear to me that Chris Elmendorf’s opinion article about the California Environmental Quality Act misses the mark.

Elmendorf acknowledged that experienced CEQA practitioners have attempted procedural reforms, but were blocked from implementing them by powerful interests.

Instead of complaining about CEQA’s purported shortcomings, he’d do better to address the need for campaign finance reform. Right now, powerful lobbies like builders, developers and construction trade unions tie the Legislature up in knots.

Elmendorf would be more helpful if he focused on how to promote what’s good for the overall public rather than narrow interest groups.

David Schonbrunn, president, Transportation Solutions Defense and Education Fund, San Rafael

Save Laguna Honda

Regarding “Judge orders nursing home chain accused of understaffing, substandard care to comply with state laws” (Bay Area, SFChronicle.com, Jan. 10): Poor care for residents of for-profit nursing homes unfortunately is very common. San Franciscans should preserve the good alternative we have: Laguna Honda Hospital, a public nonprofit long-term care facility that has served city residents for years.

It was only due to managerial dysfunction and cost-cutting by San Francisco and the state that undermined Laguna Honda’s care.

Resulting violations triggered a federal government response that required the hospital to prepare to shut down and transfer residents, 12 of whom died shortly after being moved. The evictions were halted but may resume in early February if the federal government determines the hospital is not meeting its standards quickly enough.

Even with these problems, Laguna Honda delivers better care than for-profit nursing homes. Please call on our elected officials to stop the resident evictions and save this important safety net facility.

Art Persyko, San Francisco