Engineering Division Scope of Responsibility
The District's Engineering Division issues and annually renews air quality permits for equipment that emits air pollutants located at large and small facilities in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and the southern portions of Solano and Sonoma counties. Typical large businesses that need permits include bulk petroleum operations, refineries and power plants. Typical small businesses include dry cleaners, gasoline service stations, auto body shops, coating operations and printers.
An air quality permit is a document that states the requirements for equipment to comply with air pollution laws and regulations. Air quality permits, like city and county building permits, are required by state and federal law as a part of doing business in the San Francisco Bay Area. The District's rules and regulations cover both large and small businesses. New air quality permits are needed for:
- Any equipment that may cause air pollution
- Modifications of existing permitted equipment
- Existing permitted equipment at a facility with a new owner
- Permitted equipment that is transferred from one location to another
- Installation of abatement equipment used to control emissions
The permit system requires an engineering review of the equipment design and an inspection of the installed equipment to ensure compliance with District regulations. Two types of permits are required:
- An Authority to Construct, issued after District engineers review a proposed project and determine if it is capable of complying with air quality laws; and
- A Permit to Operate, issued after the project is built and compliance is demonstrated.
Both the Authority to Construct and the Permit to Operate are issued under the same permit application. By granting a permit, we indicate that equipment should be able to comply with all air quality rules and regulations.
The District has an Ombudsman who acts as a liaison with regulated businesses, trade associations and other regulatory agencies in order to promote and direct permit and compliance assistance activities. The Ombudsman also acts as an advocate for businesses in resolving issues related to permit/compliance assistance and regulatory requirements.