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Violations & Settlements

Air Quality Violations

A Notice of Violation (NOV) or a Notice to Comply (NTC) may be issued when SacMetro AQMD Field Operations staff observe a violation of air quality permits or rules. Any individual or business receiving an NOV or NTC from a representative of the SacMetro AQMD should immediately take all reasonable and prudent steps necessary to get back into compliance.

Once compliance is restored, the case will be reviewed by SacMetro AQMD staff to determine if the facts of the case support further enforcement action.

After the case is reviewed, written notification will be sent of the SacMetro AQMD decision to either:

  • Offer the opportunity to resolve the violation through the Mutual Settlement Program
  • Refer the case to SacMetro AQMD legal counsel
  • Refer the case to the District Attorney

​Mutual Settlement Program

The SacMetro AQMD Mutual Settlement Program (MSP) is a voluntary program adopted by its Board of Directors designed to settle violations without the time and expense of litigation. Additional information on the MSP in included in this informational brochure Resolving Violations.

Criminal & Civil Penalties

Violations of air quality regulations or permit conditions are subject to criminal or civil penalties as specified in California Health and Safety Code sections 42400 through 42402 (link). Maximum civil penalties for violations range from $1,000 to $1,000,000 per day of violation, depending on the nature and severity of the violation. Penalties that have been determined by the MSP will typically be less than the maximum allowed by statute. Each day of violation is a separate offense regardless of whether a Notice of Violation is issued.

Penalty Determination

After a violation has been corrected, SacMetro AQMD staff use an objective formula to determine the amount of the proposed penalty, also called a settlement. This formula is called the Monetary Component Formula (MCF). The appropriate daily civil penalty category (link), the number of days in violation, and five aggravating and five mitigating factors are all used in the MCF to calculate the penalty amount. 

Aggravating Factors

​Mitigating Factors

​Extent of harm caused by the violation

​Degree and record of maintenance

​Nature & persistence of the violation

​Innovative control equipment

​Length of time the violation occurred

​Action taken to mitigate the violation

​Past violations

​Good faith effort to comply

​Economic benefit to noncompliance

​Financial burden to the violator

Once a penalty has been calculated using the MCF, the amount is not negotiable. The only way that proposed penalties can be reduced, within the framework of the MSP, is for new, mitigating information to be produced that affects the MCF factors listed above.

Settlement Proposals

Once the penalty has been calculated a settlement proposal letter will be sent by mail. The letter will outline certain facts associated with the case, advise the receipient of the penalties as prescribed by law, and propose the terms under which the SacMetro AQMD would be willing to settle the violation. One term usually involves payment of a civil penalty. Responses to the offer must be submitted within 30 days.

Options at this point are to:

  • Sign the settlement agreement and return it with payment of the settlement amount, by check or credit card, to the SacMetro AQMD. 
  • Request an office or phone conference to discuss the settlement offer and to present additional, mitigating information
  • Fail to respond – this will result in the case being referred to SacMetro AQMD legal counsel for evaluation of further enforcement action. The case will no longer be governed by the MSP. Any penalties will be established through litigation.

Request a Phone or Office Conference

A phone or office conference is an informal dialogue or meeting with SacMetro AQMD staff to discuss the facts of the case.  It is your responsibility to contact the District to arrange a phone or office conference within 30 days of receiving a settlement proposal letter.

The conference allows for SacMetro AQMD staff to review the MSP and penalty determination with you and to clarify rules, regulations, and permit requirements.  This is an opportunity to present and discuss any mitigating information that may be important for the SacMetro AQMD to consider.

Please note, any information presented must be true and correct to the best of your knowledge. California Health and Safety Code 4200.3.5 and 42402.4 establish separate criminal and civil penalties for any person who, knowingly and with intent to deceive, falsifies any document required to be kept pursuant to any rule, regulation, permit, or order from the District.

Program Contact Information 

​If you have questions about the Mutual Settlement Program you may contact Amy Roberts at (916) 874-6354 or aroberts@airquality.org.

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