Notice of Violation

What is an NOV?

After an NOV is issued

Mutual Settlement Program

Legal Action

Requesting a variance

Need more information?


Air Pollution Control Districts (APCD) are mandated by the California Health and Safety Code to protect public health by making and enforcing rules regarding air emissions. Violation of these air quality rules will likely result in monetary penalties and may end in civil, or even criminal prosecution.


What is a notice of violation?

A Notice of Violation (NOV) is the APCD's "official notice" that a facility has violated a District rule or permit, or a state air pollution law.


After an NOV is issued

  • Immediate action should be taken to prevent a violation from recurring. Each additional day of non-compliance could be considered an additional violation.
  • Within 10 days of receiving an NOV, the source must advise the District in writing of the corrective action taken to resolve the violation. This reply does not preclude the possibility of further legal action.
  • District staff reviews all written correspondence and available information to decide whether the NOV will be handled internally or referred to either County Counsel for civil action or the District Attorney for criminal prosecution.


The District's decision depends on the gravity of violation. In most cases, violations can be resolved by an office or telephone conference through the District's Mutual Settlement Program. This program offers an opportunity to settle the case out of court by reaching an agreement with the District. More serious cases are prosecuted in civil or criminal court.


Mutual settlement program

Most NOVs are processed through this program, which gives violators a chance to settle their case through the District rather than in court.


If an NOV is referred to this program, the District will send a letter offering to settle the violation after an office or telephone conference. The District sets settlement terms, which usually require a penalty and written proof of current compliance. The maximum civil penalty established by the California Health and Safety Code is $500,000 for an individual and $1,000,000 for a corporation for each day of violation.


The District considers all relevant information in determining a settlement amount, which may be reduced if special circumstances are involved.


Factors affecting settlement include:


  • Extent of harm caused by the violation
  • Nature and persistence of the violation
  • Length of time over which the violation occurred
  • Frequency of past violations
  • Maintenance record
  • Unproven or innovative nature of the control equipment
  • Actions taken by the operator to mitigate the problem
  • Financial burden to the violator


Legal Action

The Districtís Compliance Division considers civil or criminal prosecution when the Mutual Settlement Program does not yield an agreement or if a response is not received within the time limit specified by the District.


The District may seek criminal prosecution if the violation:


  • Causes bodily injury or death
  • Involves substantial pollution that could have been prevented
  • Shows willful disregard of District rules
  • Involves negligent operation
  • Shows the facility knew about the violation and did not correct it
  • Involves falsification of any document


Requesting a variance

A source may petition the Hearing Board for a variance if it needs to continue using non-complying equipment after receiving an NOV. If granted, a variance allows a source to legally operate the equipment causing the violation while efforts are made to correct the problem.


Need information?

  • To file for or ask for assistance with a variance, e-mail or call Michelle Wood at (805) 303-3703.
  • To check the status of a Notice of Violation, e-mail or call Michelle Wood at (805) 303-3703 or email or call Neil Hammel at (805) 303-3827.
  • To view or download a Notice of Violation Fact Sheet, please click here.