The APCD Permit Process

The US Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board have established health-based clean air standards and given the District primary responsibility for controlling air pollution from local stationary sources to help the County attain these standards.

Air pollution is caused by large and small businesses, motor vehicles, consumer products, and natural sources. In order to develop a comprehensive strategy to achieve clean air, the District needs to know how much pollution is created by each source, and must ensure that every business is operated to minimize the air pollution they cause.

To fulfill this responsibility, the District adopts rules in accordance with state and federal laws and issues permits requiring compliance with these rules. Permits specify conditions of construction and operation that are consistent with the District’s county-wide clean air strategy. Permits also require recordkeeping and reporting to help quantify and track emissions that have been permitted to occur.

In summary, permits are required:

  1. To provide information to the District on the type and amount of air pollution caused by businesses. This information is essential for planning a county-wide clean air strategy.
  2. To ensure that businesses are designed, constructed, and operated to minimize air pollution.

Stationary sources (e.g., businesses, utilities, government agencies, and universities) need a District permit before constructing, changing, replacing, or operating any equipment or process which may cause air pollution. This includes equipment designed to reduce air pollution. Permits are also required if an existing business that causes air pollution transfers ownership, relocates, or otherwise changes their operations.

Examples of operations that need APCD permits are offshore oil and gas platforms, onshore oil and gas facilities, gas stations, dry cleaners, cement batch plants, auto body shops, wood refinishing operations, and operators of internal combustion engines rated ≥ 50 break horsepower. A more detailed list of operations that may require an APCD permit is provided below:

  • Agricultural Milling
  • Asphalt Batch Plants
  • Boilers
  • Bulk Material Transfer & Storage Equipment
  • Chrome Plating
  • Circuit Board Manufacturing
  • Cogeneration Plants
  • Concrete Batch Plants 
  • Contaminated Soil/Water Cleanup Systems
  • Cooling Towers
  • Crematories/Incinerators
  • Curing & Burnoff Ovens
  • Diesel Emergency Standby Generators (≥ 50 bhp)
  • Degreasing/Solvent Operations
  • Dredges
  • Dryers, Furnaces, or Kilns
  • Emission Control Equipment
  • Ethylene Oxide Sterilizers
  • Fiberglass Fabrication Operations
  • Flares/Thermal Oxidizers
  • Fumigation Chambers
  • Furnaces Furniture Stripping Operations
  • Fume Hoods
  • Gasoline Storage and Dispensing Equipment
  • Graphic Arts Printing
  • Internal Combustion Engines – All Fuels (≥ 50 bhp)
  • Laboratory Hoods
  • Oil/Gas Production & Process Equipment
  • Oil Water Separators
  • Organic Liquid Storage Tanks
  • Paint Manufacturing
  • Paint Spray Booths or Paint/Coating Spray Equipment
  • Rock Crushing & Screening Equipment
  • Sand & Gravel Operations
  • Waste Water Treatment Plants
  • Wet Scrubbers
  • Wineries
  • Wood Chippers/Tub Grinders

This list is not exhaustive. If you have any questions or concerns about whether you need an APCD permit, e-mail our Engineering Division or call (805) 979-8050 or e-mail Business Assistance.

The Permitting Process Typically Has Four Phases.

1)  Authority to Construct (ATC) Permit 
The ATC permit allows for the construction of a new facility or installation as well as modification of equipment at an existing facility. The ATC ensures that the equipment is designed, constructed, and operated to meet local, state, and federal air quality requirements. The requirements of Regulation VIII, New Source Review, are applied to ATC permit applications.

2)  Source Compliance Demonstration Period (SCDP) 
After construction, installation, or modification that is done under an ATC, the SCDP allows for temporary operation for testing, calibration, and demonstration of compliance with the ATC’s requirements.

3)  Permit to Operate (PTO)
The PTO allows for the on-going operation of the facility in accordance with all permit conditions and local, state, and federal air quality requirements.

4)  Reevaluation (Reeval)
For most permits, the PTO is “reevaluated” every three years. During the reevaluation, the permit is updated as necessary to ensure compliance and to reflect any changes to local, state, or federal requirements. Gasoline service stations with Phase II vapor recovery are only renewed on an annual basis.

There are two permits required: first the Authority to Construct (ATC), and after construction and demonstration of compliance, the Permit to Operate (PTO). 

The ATC is required before construction begins, so you should submit the application well in advance of your planned start date. You may also need land use clearance from either the county or a city planning department. In these cases, those planning departments are the lead agency under CEQA and you’ll need their approval first before the District can issue our permit. As such, it is important that you check with the building department and the District early in the permit process to determine what is required.

To access and download the ATC or PTO application forms, visit the Permit Applications webpage. A completed application must include the associated filing fee, and a detailed description of your equipment, materials, and operations.

Within 30 days of when you submit your application, the District’s permitting staff will either find the application “complete,” which means it contains all the necessary information, or it will be “incomplete” and additional information will be needed to complete the application.

Once the application is determined to be complete, the permitting staff review the calculations, if any; evaluate the consistency of the project with local, state, and federal air pollution control requirements; and prepare a draft ATC or PTO which describes how the equipment must be operated to minimize air pollution. The applicant is provided a draft of the permit to review to ensure the permit is accurate. The review period is also important since the permit includes on-going requirements and conditions, and so the applicant needs to understand and may comment on the permit conditions before they are finalized.

For information related to permit fees, please visit the Fees webpage.

For more information or assistance, call the District at (805) 979-8050 or e-mail us at [email protected].

Application forms may be downloaded from our Permit Applications webpage.