District Hearing Board
Hearing Board for North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District (District) is a quasi-judicial body
which administers the judicial functions of the District. Examples of appropriate matters which may be
brought before the Hearing Board include: appeals of permit decisions, petitions for a variance and
requests for abatement orders.
hearings are conducted in open public meetings as prescribed by the California Health & Safety Code and
in compliance with Brown Act requirements. After receiving testimony and considering all properly presented
evidence, the Hearing Board renders a decision, based upon a popular vote, either to grant or deny a given
District's Hearing Board is comprised of five members which are appointed by the
for a service term of three
years. Under the requirements of the California Health & Safety Code, the Hearing Board must consist of an
attorney, an engineer and a physician. The two remaining members may be of any professional background.
Hearing Board roster:
- Board Chair - Charles Roecklein (Engineer position)
- Alternate position - Ken Mierzwa (Engineer position)
- Board Vice-Chair - Sarah Samples (Public Member)
- Board Member - Heidi Benzonelli (Public Member)
- Board Member - John W. Corbett, Esq. (Attorney position)
- Board Member - Jeff Slack, Esq. (Alternate Attorney position)
- Board Member - Denver H. Nelson, MD (Medical Professional)
- Board Member - Eli Naffah (Public Member)
- Board Member - Martin Smuckler, MD (Medical Professional - Alternate)
- Board Member - Currently Vacant (Public Member)
- Attorney to the Hearing Board - Paul Brisso, Esq.
Notice of Vacancy
he District Hearing Board currently has a Public Member vacancy.
Hearing Board Meetings
District Hearing Board meets periodically
depending upon the number of petitions filed. Please
the Clerk of the Board to learn the meeting dates, times, and locations for the current year or to obtain information about past meetings.
The current agenda and meeting materials for the next Hearing Board meeting are available below:
Contacting the Hearing Board
to the Hearing Board should be addressed to the Clerk of the Board and sent to the following address:
NCUAQMD Hearing Board
Attn: Clerk of the Board
707 L Street
Eureka, CA 95501
Information about the Hearing Board
What can a Hearing Board do?
after review of testimony and properly presented evidence, the Hearing Board determines there is sufficient
evidence to make all findings of fact required by the California Health & Safety Code, the Hearing Board may
elect to perform any of the following:
- Grant a permit denied by the Air Pollution Control Officer.
- Continue suspension of a permit suspended by the Air Pollution Control Officer.
- Remove the suspension of an existing permit invoked by the Air Pollution Control
Officer pending the furnishing by the applicant of the information, plans and specifications required.
- Find that no violation exists and reinstate an existing permit.
- Issue a Variance from local regulations or permit conditions.
- Issue an Abatement Order.
- Revoke an existing permit if:
- the permittee has failed to correct any condition required by the Air Pollution Control Officer:
- fraud or deciet was employed in the obtaining of a permit;
- any violation of any order rule or regulation of the District has occured.
What is a variance?
variance is relief from enforcement actions which the AQMD Hearing Board may grant for a limited period of time.
If an emission source operates in violation of a District rule, regulation, or permit condition without a variance,
it will be subject to enforcement action and possible monetary penalties. Penalties can be in excess of $50,000
per violation for each day the source intentionally operates in violation.
What types of variances are available?
types of variances are listed below. AQMD staff does not provide legal advice to members of the public. Applicants
may wish to consult with legal counsel prior to filing a petition.
- Emergency Variance -- if an emission source experiences a breakdown of equipment which persists beyond the
allowable time of 24 hours (96 hours for a continuous emission monitor), then the source may be eligible for
an emergency variance. The term of this type of variance may not exceed 30 days.
- Short Term Variance -- this variance applies to non-emergency situations. The petition can be heard by a
single Hearing Board Member, usually the Chairperson or Vice Chairperson. The maximum term is 90 days and 10
day advance notification to the public, the California Air Resources Board, the Federal Environmental Protection
Agency and the Petitioner is reqired.
- Interim Variance -- this type of variance can be heard by a single Board Member and may be granted until a
regular variance hearing can be held. In no case may the interim variance be granted for a period longer than 90
days. Applicants filing for an interim variance must also apply for a regular variance.
- Regular Variance -- hearing proceedings for this type of variance must be heard by the full Board (quorum),
can last for a period of up to one year, requires 15 day public notice and must include a schedule of increments
of progress toward achieving compliance.
What criteria are used to determine if a variance can be granted?
Hearing Board may elect to grant a variance if the following findings of fact can be made:
- The source is or will be in violation of a District rule, regulation or permit condition;
- Compliance would not provide a corresponding benefit to air quality;
- Consideration has been given to curtailing operations in lieu of obtaining a variance;
- During the variance period, excess emissions will be reduced to the maximum extent feasible; and
- During the variance period, emissions will be quantified and reported to the District if so requested.