As part of the District’s mission to improve air quality and protect public health, District Compliance Inspectors visit businesses and other facilities. If they find a violation of air pollution laws, they issue a written notice.
Notices of Violation versus Notices to Comply
A Notice of Violation is the District’s claim that the District's rules, and/or state or federal air pollution laws, have been violated. As provided in state law, a Notice of Violation may result in monetary penalties, civil suit, or in serious cases, criminal prosecution. Most violation settlements include some form of monetary penalty. A list of maximum statutory penalties is available here.
A Notice to Comply differs from a Notice of Violation in that it does not result in penalties, provided corrective action is taken by the due date.
Take a proactive approach. Before your inspection, work with the District’s Business Assistant to:
- Study the District Rules and Regulations and Compliance Requirements applicable to your operations.
- Review your permit conditions. Ask questions.
- Post signs near the permitted equipment listing permit limits.
- Identify where records are kept. Know who will be able to provide those records to the inspector if you are unavailable.
- Attend training at District offices or watch videos online.
- Download recordkeeping forms to use.
- Request a courtesy inspection; conduct regular self-audits.
- Learn about breakdown conditions and variances as a source of possible enforcement relief.
If you receive a Notice of Violation or Notice to Comply, you should take immediate action to stop the violation. Each additional day the violation is not corrected may be an additional violation. The District may re-inspect your operation at any time to verify the problem has been corrected.
If you cannot correct the problem immediately, due to conditions beyond your reasonable control, you have the option to request enforcement relief in the form of a variance from the Hearing Board. A variance will not erase the original violation, but it will allow a limited time to continue to operate as you work to comply with Rules and Regulations.
For a Notice to Comply: correct the violation, sign the notice certifying you have corrected the violation, and return the notice to the District within five calendar days.
For a Notice of Violation: within ten calendar days, advise the District in writing of the specific actions you took to correct the violation or the reasons you believe a violation did not occur. Your response to the violation may be a factor in determining the settlement, so please address:
- The violation itself (extent of harm, its persistence and duration);
- Your violation history;
- The innovative nature of the control equipment;
- The actions you took to ensure compliance (extent of mitigation, response time, inspection and maintenance program); and,
- Financial burden, if relevant.
The District resolves most Notices of Violation through the Violation Settlement Program, an informal opportunity to resolve a violation without the burden and cost of litigation. If the District determines that a Notice of Violation should be handled through the Violation Settlement Program, you will be sent a settlement offer. The District may also:
- File a Small Claims Court complaint.
- Refer the violation case for civil litigation or criminal prosecution.
If the violation continues, the District may:
- Seek an Abatement Order from the Hearing Board.
- Request a court-ordered injunction.
The District administers a Supplemental
Environmental Project (SEP) Program to evaluate community-based
projects that can be funded from a portion of the penalties received
during settlement of enforcement actions.
Eligible SEP proposals must promote public health, pollution prevention and reduction, environmental protection, or environmental compliance and must go beyond any federal, state, and local requirements.
To learn about the compliance history of neighboring businesses, submit a public records act request. Please be as specific as possible; for example, if you are only interested in Notices of Violation issued to facilities located on a certain street during the past year, please state that.
If the violation is currently open, you may review a copy of the violation. Once the violation closes, however, you may review all documents that are subject to disclosure.
If you have a concern about air pollution, you may submit an Air Pollution Complaint.
Compliance Division Contact
For general questions or to submit your response, please contact the Compliance Division by phone at (858) 586-2650 Monday through Friday from 7:00 am through 5:00 pm, by email, or by mail to 10124 Old Grove Road, San Diego, CA 92131.