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District Hearing Board

The Hearing Board for North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District (District) is a quasi-judicial body that 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.

All 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 petition.

The District's Hearing Board is comprised of five members which are appointed by the Governing Board 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.

Current Hearing Board Roster

  • Professional Engineer position: Charles Roecklein - Board Chair
  • Professional Engineer position (alternate): Vacant
  • Medical Professional position: Vacant
  • Medical Professional position (alternate): Vacant
  • Attorney position: Vacant
  • Attorney position (alternate): Vacant
  • Public Member position (#1): Joanna Hawley-Jones
  • Public Member position (#2): Ken Mierzwa
  • Public Member position (alternate): Vacant

Vacancies on Hearing Board

The District Hearing Board is currently looking for candidates to fill all vacant positions. Click here to read the full vacancy notice. Letters of intent with resume can be submitted at any time. For more information please contact the Clerk of the Board at

Hearing Board Meetings

The District Hearing Board meets periodically depending upon when petitions are filed. Please contact the Clerk of the Board for the meeting dates, times, and locations for the current year, current agenda, meeting materials, or to obtain information about past meetings. Hearing Board meetings are noticed on the District's Public Notices page. For more information please contact the Clerk of the Board at

Contacting the Hearing Board

Correspondence 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

Or electronically sent to

Hearing Board Information

What can a Hearing Board do? 

If 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 deceit was employed in the obtaining of a permit; any violation of any order rule or regulation of the District has occurred.
What is a variance? 

A 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? 

The 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 required.
  • 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? 

The 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.