Santa Clara County Considers Plan for Homeowners to Opt-Out of Mosquito Fogging

Santa Clara County supervisors are considering an opt-out program for homeowners who oppose mosquito fogging.

Residents concerned about fogging in their neighborhood said plans for the opt-out program are a step in the right direction. However, the vector control district argues fogging is necessary to protect people from West Nile Virus.

"The warm weather makes their breeding cycle a lot faster," Santa Clara County Vector Control District Manager Denise Bonilla said of mosquitoes.

Last year, 11 people in the county were infected with the West Nile Virus. In Orange County -- where neighborhoods were not sprayed -- 266 people were infected.

Critics of the fogging plan argue the chemicals used to kill mosquitoes can cause health problems and kill other useful insects.

Non-profit Healthy Alternatives to Pesticides is suing the county, arguing the fogging is an environmental hazard.

"It's unconstitutional to have the government spread poison on someone's private property without their consent," said Alexander Henson, a lawyer representing Healthy Alternatives to Pesticides.

Still, the vector district said an opt-out program would not be fair to those in favor of fogging.

"You have infected mosquitoes that can go to other properties and bite people and infect people that would be in favor of a fogging," Bonilla said.

The district said it is considering using more natural spray, but added more testing needs to be done.

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