The Rule Development Process

Making rules includes both the adoption of new rules and the revision of existing rules. The process emphasizes opportunities for public input in order to address the concerns of affected businesses and community groups and to ensure an understandable, workable, and enforceable rule.

How to Create a Rule

The District’s Rule Development Section in the Planning Division coordinates this process and assigns a designated contact for each rule. Public input to rule development is actively sought and an effort is made to identify all parties that may be affected by the rule. These parties are kept informed throughout the process by mailings, which note public forums where the rule will be discussed, locations where the draft rule may be reviewed, how to submit comments, and the date, time, and place of the public hearing where the rule will be considered for adoption. The District posts current rulemaking activities on our website. The following chart demonstrates the rule development process.


Draft Rule

All rules get their start by identifying the need for a new requirement. Often this is in the form of a legal mandate such as the Ozone Plan, which is adopted by the APCD Board of Directors to bring the county into compliance with one of the health-based clean air standards. Other rules originate from specific state or federal mandates, or special public health concerns. To create a draft rule, rulemaking staff must perform all of the following:

  • Staff performs comprehensive research on the rule subject, such as reviewing relevant guidance provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the California Air Resources Board (CARB), and other air districts within California.
  • Based on the research, staff prepares an outline of how the rule would work.
  • Staff solicits input on the draft rule from other District staff members involved in permitting, monitoring, and enforcement.
  • Staff then prepares a draft rule and may send it to both EPA and CARB for review and comments.

Rulemaking staff also prepares a detailed Staff Report that explains:

  • The reason for the rule adoption;
  • The types of businesses that will be affected and ways in which those businesses may comply with the rule;
  • The estimated compliance costs and air pollution reduction benefits of the rule (if any); and
  • Any impacts the rule may have on the environment, in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act.

Public Review

After incorporating all EPA, CARB, and District staff comments, the rule is ready to be reviewed by the public. The District sends out direct mailings and general solicitations to all affected industries, informing them that the draft rule may be reviewed and how they can submit written comments on the rule. For most rule development proceedings, a public workshop is performed to more thoroughly explain the draft rule requirements and to solicit for additional input. At the workshop, the public may ask questions and make verbal suggestions. Any remaining concerns by the public should be submitted in writing since the written public comments and the District responses to those comments will be incorporated into the staff report.

Community Advisory Council Meetings

The District presents the draft rule to the Community Advisory Council (CAC). The CAC reviews the rule and associated staff report in-depth and makes recommendations to the District Board whether the rule should be adopted in its current state. The CAC may also ask District staff to make additional clarifications or modifications to the rule before being presented to the Board. All CAC meetings are open to the public, and the public may participate by providing additional comments during the CAC meetings.

Proposed Rule Package

Based on comments from the public, industry, CAC, and other agencies, rulemaking staff revises the draft rule and prepares the rule for adoption. The District publishes a legal advertisement in the newspaper that indicates that the District is proposing the rule for adoption. By law, the District is required to publish a public notice in a local newspaper at least 30 days in advance of the adoption hearing. The District typically publishes legal ads in the Santa Barbara News-Press.

Board of Directors — Rule Adoption Hearing

At the adoption hearing, the District’s Board of Directors reviews all pertinent information regarding the new or modified rule. The public may also comment on the proposed rule at the hearing. If the Board agrees with the District’s assessment after reviewing all the material and hearing all the comments, the rule is formally adopted. If for some reason there are any unresolved issues, the Board may postpone the adoption hearing until a later date.

Post-Adoption Activities

After the rule is formally adopted, the District updates the website with the new materials and will reach out to affected industries to make sure they are aware of the rule change and any upcoming compliance requirements. District enforcement staff may perform additional public outreach to help affected businesses and industries comply with any new requirements.

How to Stay Informed

To be kept informed of any proposed rule changes, please visit our Subscription page.

For more information on rulemaking, contact the Rules Division at [email protected].