The Rule Development Process

Introduction and Summary

Rule Development includes both the adoption of new rules and the revision of existing rules. The District’s Planning Division coordinates each rule development proceeding with help from the Engineering and Compliance Divisions. The process emphasizes opportunities for public input in order to address the concerns of affected businesses and community groups and to ensure an understandable, feasible, and enforceable rule. The flow chart below demonstrates the typical rule development process, and additional information on the various steps in the process is included on this page. A full redevelopment proceeding may take between 6 to 9 months to complete.




Establishing the Need for a New/Revised Rule

The first step in the rule development process is to establish a need for a new or revised rule or control measure. 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 they’re performed to clarify the existing rule requirements in relation to newer technologies or to address local air quality concerns.

Draft Rule

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 or the specific sections of an existing rule to be amended.
  • Staff solicits input on the draft rule from other District staff members involved in permitting and compliance.
  • Staff then prepares the draft rule language 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. Public input is actively sought and an effort is made to identify all parties that may be affected by the rule. 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 members of the public that want to stay informed of all rule development proceedings, please visit our Subscription page and sign-up for the e-mail notices.

This noticing process helps keep parties informed about the upcoming public forums where the rule will be discussed, locations where the rule materials can be reviewed, and the process to submit written comments on the rule development proceeding. Public comments on the rule proceeding should be submitted as early as possible to make sure they can be incorporated into the next steps of the rule development process.

Public Workshop

For most rule development proceedings, a public workshop is performed to more thoroughly explain the draft rule requirements and focus on areas 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 next version of 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 or if additional modifications or clarifications should be incorporated. All CAC meetings are open to the public, and the public may participate by providing additional comments during the meeting’s designated public comment period.

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 Independent and Santa Maria Times.

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 by submitting a speaker slip 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 continue 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. Staff also forwards the adopted rule to CARB, and if necessary, the EPA.

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].