Notice of Violation
The District may issue a Notice of Violation for alleged violations of a District permit, order, rule, or regulation, or of State or Federal air pollution laws or regulations that are enforceable by the District. Following the issuance of the Notice of Violation, and prior to settlement, the violation must be discontinued, appropriate corrective actions taken to prevent future violations, or in certain cases a variance order sought from the District Hearing Board. Each day of continuing non-compliance is an additional violation.
All violations are potentially subject to a civil monetary penalty under California Health and Safety Code Section 42402. The maximum civil monetary penalty is capped depending on the type and severity of violation. Minor violations with no intentional or negligent conduct have strict liability up to $1,000 per violation day. Strict liability for any violation is capped at $10,000 per day. Penalties are higher for violations that involve a discharge of emissions or that result in bodily injuries. Negligent emissions violations are capped at $25,000 per day. Where the violator knew of the emission and failed to take corrective action, the maximum is $40,000 per day. Intentional emission violations are capped at $75,000 per day. Each day that a violation occurs may be counted as a separate violation. Click here
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The District attempts to resolve most violations through our mutual settlement program. This is a negotiated civil settlement process. In a written letter to the violator, the District establishes its findings concerning the violation, and offers to have an office or telephone conference to discuss circumstances that the District might not be aware of. If the violation is no longer occurring, the District may make a settlement offer. Settlement terms will include demonstration of compliance and almost always will include a monetary penalty to be paid in acknowledgement of the violation and to deter future violations.
The monetary penalty that is requested as a part of a violation’s settlement is determined on a case by case basis, considering all relevant circumstances. It is based on factors, as directed by the California Health and Safety Code 42403(b), including the violation’s extent of harm, nature and persistence, length of time, the frequency of past violations, maintenance record, innovative nature of control equipment, and corrective actions taken and financial burden to the violator. It also considers enforcement resources expended, deterrent value of a monetary penalty to future violations, economic benefits of non-compliance, good faith efforts to comply, and the benefits accruing to an out-of-court settlement.
The mutual settlement process avoids the time and expense of litigation and is provided for in State law. It is District management’s decision as to whether a case is first sought to be settled through the mutual settlement process or is referred for civil or criminal prosecution in court.
For more serious violations or violations that are not settled through mutual negotiation the District may consider civil court prosecution by District Counsel or civil or criminal court prosecution by the District Attorney or the California Attorney General’s Office. The District may refer a violation for civil or criminal prosecution as the first and primary means of resolution.
Criminal prosecution would most likely be sought where the violation causes bodily injury, involves significant pollution that could have been prevented, and/or was willful, extremely negligent, or knowing. Criminal penalties under California Health and Safety Code Section 42400 could include fines and imprisonment.
The District may also pursue settlement of certain violations in Small Claims Court.
Corrective Action Notice
The District does not provide warnings. In limited cases for very minor violations, the District may issue a Corrective Action Notice, requiring the implementation of stated actions to ensure the issue is corrected and to avoid the occurrence of a future violation. A re-inspection by District staff may occur to verify that the corrective action was performed.
A variance may be sought by petitioning the District Hearing Board to temporarily allow the continuation of operations which are in violation of District rules or permit conditions. The variance grants relief from a specific rule or condition while efforts are made to correct the problem. A variance cannot be obtained to avoid meeting requirements to obtain a permit or for a nuisance. A variance cannot be obtained to deviate from state or federal regulations or laws.