Ask the Light editor: What’s up with noisy trucks and buses?

Q. I am wondering what the town rules are about days and times garbage trucks can operate here in La Jolla. Also are there any ordinances on trucks and buses running their motors while idle or parked.

A. Last year the city passed an ordinance that “allows refuse compacting, processing and collection vehicles to begin operation in residential areas at 6 a.m.” That’s an hour earlier than previously allowed. It was part of an effort to cut costs as the Environmental Services Department reorganized routes from eight-hour workdays to 10-hour days. Officials say the move enabled them to better use the daylight hours and get to the Miramar Landfill before it closes at 4:30 p.m.

As for other large vehicles the state’s Airborne Toxic Control Measures require “a driver of a school bus or vehicle, transit bus, or other commercial motor vehicle to manually turn off the bus or vehicle engine upon arriving at a school and to restart no more than 30 seconds before departing.

A driver of a school bus or vehicle is subject to the same requirement when operating within 100 feet of a school and is prohibited from idling more than five minutes at each stop beyond schools, such as parking or maintenance facilities, school bus stops, or school activity destinations. A driver of a transit bus or other commercial motor vehicle is prohibited from idling more than five minutes at each stop within 100 feet of a school. Idling necessary for health, safety, or operational concerns is exempt from these restrictions.”

As for commercial trucks greater than 10,000 pounds, a driver is not supposed to “idle the vehicle’s primary diesel engine for greater than 5.0 minutes at any location” and heavy-duty diesel trucks built since 2008 have to be equipped with a shutdown system that automatically turns the engine off “after 300 seconds of continuous idling operation once the vehicle is stopped.”

To report violators call the Air Resources Board at (800) 363-7664 or go to