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Hearing Board

​The Hearing Board is a quasi-judicial panel authorized to provide relief from SacMetro AQMD regulations under certain circumstances. As state law requires, Hearing Board members are appointed by, but act independently of the SacMetro AQMD Governing Board. The Hearing Board consists of a medical professional, a professional engineer, an attorney, and two members of the public. The Hearing Board is scheduled to meet the 3rd Tuesday of every month at 4:00pm in the SacMetro AQMD Offices located at 777 12th Street, Suite 300, Sacramento, CA.

​Members

  • Steven G. Meyers, M.D.  - Medical Professional
  • Stacy M. Moak - Attorney
  • John A. German - Professional Engineer
  • Tim Olson - Public Member
  • Darrel H. Woo - Public Member

​Vacancies

None

​Hearing Board Meetings and Agendas

 

​​​​Hearing Board Authority

The Hearing Board is authorized to hear:

    • petitions by companies for variances
    • petitions for abatement orders

An abatement order requires a business operating out of compliance to take specific actions or to shut down its operation. This is a severe remedy normally reserved for serious violators.

    • appeals by businesses from the granting of permits, permit conditions, permit denials and suspensions, denials of emission reduction credits and denials of pollution control plans
    • appeals by third parties

The Hearing Board is not authorized to:

    • modify rules

    • exempt a business from complying with a rule

    • grant a variance from a violation of the public nuisance law, such as one that creates an odor problem or threatens public health or property

    • review a violation notice in any way

​Variances

A variance is an administrative exception to a law allowing a business to continue operating in violation of SacMetro AQMD rules without penalty while it takes appropriate steps to meet air pollution control requirements. Variances can be granted only by the SacMetro AQMD Hearing Board, not by SacMetro AQMD inspectors or engineers. ​​The variance information packet contains detailed information on variances.

There may be good reasons why a business can't immediately comply with rules. Violation of rules can result in a fine, or even the shutdown of an operation. The only legal way to operate while working toward a solution without being subject to penalties is to obtain a variance. The U.S. EPA may take enforcement action, notwithstanding a variance.

Types of Variances:

Emergency

When a situation develops without warning, such as an equipment breakdown, power failure, or similar event that could cause a violation of SacMetro AQMD rules, an emergency variance is an option. The Chairperson of the Hearing Board may grant an emergency variance, without public notice or hearing.

Interim

For immediate coverage other than for emergencies, an interim variance, which only requires a "reasonable notice" period--can be obtained to cover the time until a hearing for a short or regular variance can be held. An interim variance must  be requested at the same time either a short or regular variance is requested. The Hearing Board is required by law to find good cause to grant an interim variance. There has to be a good reason why the business could not have filed its petition in time for the hearing to be announced to the public.

Short

Businesses that can comply with SacMetro AQMD rules within 90 days or less should request a short variance. A short variance requires a 10 day posted notice, plus five days processing time before the request can be heard.

​​Regular

Companies that need more than 90 days to comply with SacMetro AQMD rules should request a regular variance. The variance period is usually one year or less, but can be longer if a specific compliance schedule is set. An application for a regular variance must be filed at least 35 days before the request can be heard.

​Variance Request Process

To request a variance or appeal a permit or an emission reduction credit denial, call (916) 874-4800. The Clerk of the Hearing Board will provide a packet of information needed to file a petition. The petition form may also be downloaded at the bottom of this page. The Clerk of the Hearing Board will schedule a hearing once they receive the completed petition form and appropriate filing fee.

The Hearing Board meets at SacMetro AQMD offices. Filing for a hearing cannot be done online or by facsimile. The Hearing Board is required by law to give public notice of hearings. Requestors will receive a copy of the notice.

SacMetro AQMD Rule 302 provides a detailed description of all Hearing Board fees. 

  • Filing Fee - due at the time the petition application is submitted.
  • Publication Fee - due whenever a public notice must be printed in the newspaper (regular variance and appeals)
  • Excess Emission Fee - due when a granted variance is in effect for more than 90 days.

A SacMetro AQMD staff person is available to help determine the amount of excess emissions to be billed. For assistance, call the Clerk of the Hearing Board at (916) 874-4809.

Small businesses are eligible for a discount on some fees.

​Preparing for the Hearing

Preparing for the hearing ahead of time is very important. Plan to bring all relevant information to form the basis of the six findings described in the variance information packet. Also, bring copies of current permits, contact information for companies helping to achieve compliance, dates compliant equipment can be installed, and plans for reducing emissions in the interim. The Hearing Board needs ten copies of any documents presented.

Petitioners may represent themselves or be represented by an attorney.  It's important to know what rules have been violated, the level of excess emissions, and to have a plan as to how and when compliance will be reached. It is helpful to bring along any technical experts who are assisting to resolve the issue.

Variance hearings are like courtroom proceedings. Both the variance petitioner and the SacMetro AQMD , represented by the Office of District Counsel, present evidence through witnesses under oath, documents and exhibits. Witnesses may be cross-examined by the opposing side and questioned by Hearing Board members.

The Hearing Board will attempt to discover why and how the rule is being violated, whether the violation could have been prevented, what is being done to correct the violation, when corrections will be completed, what will happen to the business if it is forced to shut down, how the violation affects the public, and what efforts can be made to reduce excess emissions to the maximum extent feasible.

The SacMetro AQMD may argue against a variance or suggest certain limiting conditions. The public is invited to present any information important to the case. Board members then close the hearing and discuss the case among themselves before reaching a decision.

​Getting Help

For more information on the variance process including how to request a variance, or fill out the application, call the Clerk of the Hearing Board at (916) 874-4809.

The variance packet is available for download at the bottom of this page or may be picked up at SacMetro AQMD offices at 777 12th Street 3rd Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814.

 

 

Information Packet Varianceshttp://www.airquality.org/Administrative/Documents/Hearing Board Documents/Information Packet Variances.pdfInformation Packet VariancesVariance Materials
Nuisancehttp://www.airquality.org/Administrative/Documents/Hearing Board Documents/Nuisance.pdfNuisanceVariance Materials
Petition Formhttp://www.airquality.org/Administrative/Documents/Hearing Board Documents/Petition Form.pdfPetition FormVariance Materials
Rule 201http://www.airquality.org/Administrative/Documents/Hearing Board Documents/Rule 201.pdfRule 201Variance Materials
Rule 302http://www.airquality.org/Administrative/Documents/Hearing Board Documents/Rule 302.pdfRule 302Variance Materials
Rule 601http://www.airquality.org/Administrative/Documents/Hearing Board Documents/Rule 601.pdfRule 601Variance Materials
Rule 602http://www.airquality.org/Administrative/Documents/Hearing Board Documents/Rule 602.pdfRule 602Variance Materials
Hearing Board Filing Schedule 2017http://www.airquality.org/Administrative/Documents/Hearing Board Documents/Hearing Board Meeting Schedule 2017.pdfHearing Board Filing Schedule 2017
Public Notice for SAFCA Regular Variance (Apr 2 17)http://www.airquality.org/Administrative/Documents/Hearing Board Documents/Public Notice for SAFCA Regular Variance (Apr 2 17).pdfPublic Notice for SAFCA Regular Variance (Apr 2 17)

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