Chapter 9.64
Grading, Erosion, and Sediment Control


9.64.010    Purpose

9.64.020    Applicability of Grading Regulations

9.64.030    Definitions

9.64.040    Incorporation of California Building Code (CBC)

9.64.050    Grading Permit Requirements

9.64.060    Grading Permit Application Filing and Processing

9.64.070    Grading Standards

9.64.080    Completion of Grading

9.64.010 Purpose

This Chapter provides procedures and minimum standards for the regulation of grading activities within the City. These provisions are intended to promote public safety and welfare by preventing unreasonable or unnecessary erosion and sediment production and related degradation of natural resources and the City’s stormwater drainage systems.

9.64.020 Applicability of Grading Regulations

A.    Compliance required. The provisions of this Chapter apply to all excavation, fill, or other grading activities occurring within the City. It shall be unlawful and a violation of this Land Use Code for any person to:

1.    Cause, conduct, allow, or furnish equipment or any labor for any grading activities without first obtaining any planning permit required by this Land Use Code, a grading permit when required by Section 9.64.050 (Grading Permit Requirements), and complying with all applicable grading standards of this Chapter; or

2.    Violate or fail to comply with any term or condition of the approval of any grading permit issued in compliance with this Chapter.

B.    Project approval required prior to grading. No grading permit shall be issued and no grading shall occur unless a development project has been first authorized on the site in compliance with Article 7 (Planning Permit Procedures), or Article 8 (Subdivisions).

C.    Hazards. Whenever the City Engineer determines that any excavation, embankment, or fill on private property constitutes a hazard to public safety, endangers property, or adversely affects the safety, use or stability of adjacent property, an overhead or underground utility, or a public way, watercourse, or drainage channel, or could adversely affect the water quality or any water bodies or watercourses, the owner or other person in control of the subject property shall be contacted and advised of the problem. Upon receipt of written notice from the City Engineer, the property owner shall repair or eliminate the excavation, embankment or fill so as to eliminate the hazard and conform with the requirements of this Chapter.

D.    Enforcement. The provisions of this Chapter shall be enforced by the Building Official and City Engineer. The engineer for a project may be required to inspect work and certify compliance with the approved grading plan, erosion and sediment control plan, and the provisions of this Chapter.

E.    Violations and penalties. Violations of the provisions of this Chapter shall be enforced in compliance with Municipal Code Title I, Chapter 3. Violations may also be subject to stop work orders, corrective action orders, and/or the suspension of issuance of occupancy permits.

9.64.030 Definitions

Definitions of the technical terms and phrases used in this Chapter are in Article 10 (Glossary) under "Grading."

9.64.040 Incorporation of California Building Code (CBC)

The provisions of this Chapter supplement and are in addition to the requirements of the latest edition of the California Building Code Appendix Chapter 33 (Excavation and Grading). Each project that includes grading shall also comply with the applicable requirements of CBC Chapter 33.

9.64.050 Grading Permit Requirements

A.    General requirements.

1.    Except as provided in this Chapter, no person shall commence or perform any grading, ground-disturbing, clearing of vegetation, or other land-disturbing activity without having first obtained a grading permit from the Building Official.

2.    In geologic/seismic safety hazard areas, areas identified as "medium risk" and "high risk" landslide hazard areas, and areas identified as having a high liquefaction potential, as shown on the Public Safety and Seismic Safety Element Maps of the General Plan, no grading or clearing of vegetation shall commence without obtaining approval by the Community Development Director, the Director of Environmental Services, and the City Engineer, in addition to the grading permit required by Subsection A.1.

B.    Exceptions. Except in the areas noted in Subsection A.2 above, a grading permit shall not be required if the work meets any of the following conditions and meets the requirements of Chapter 9.59 (Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas Protection and Preservation):

1.    Clearing of vegetation does not exceed 1,000 square feet in area, or does not expose or disturb soil surface;

2.    Cultivation of land for agricultural purposes, provided that normal and customary agricultural practices are followed to minimize potential erosion;

3.    Grading associated with timber harvesting that has been authorized in compliance with regulations of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection;

4.    Refuse disposal sites controlled by regulations of other agencies;

5.    Excavations for wells or tunnels or utilities;

6.    An excavation does not exceed four feet in vertical depth at its deepest point, measured from the original surface, and does not exceed 200 square feet in area;

7.    A fill that does not exceed three feet in vertical height at its highest point, measured from the natural ground surface, and does not cover more than 200 square feet;

8.    Exploratory excavations under the direct supervision of soils engineers or engineering geologists which do not exceed an aggregate area of 200 square feet;

9.    An excavation below finished grade for basements and footings of a building if authorized by a valid building permit. This exception does not affect the requirement of a grading permit for any fill made with the material from the excavation; or

10.    Excavations for cemetery graves.

C.    Grading in geologic hazard areas. All grading located in a geologic hazard area shown on the Public Safety and Seismic Safety Element Maps of the General Plan shall be subject to Geologic Hazard Review in compliance with Chapter 9.62 (Geologic Hazard Review). A report or waiver required in compliance with Chapter 9.62 shall be included with any grading permit application. Final Soil Grading and Geologic Grading Reports shall also be required for all grading activities in these areas, except that borings and related analyses will be sufficient in liquefaction hazard areas.

D.    Grading and clearing in the Coastal Zone. Proposed grading in the Coastal Zone shall be reviewed under the City’s LCP.

E.    Compliance with CEQA. All grading activities shall comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and Chapter 9.78 (Environmental Impact Assessment).

F.    Other permits may be required. Nothing in this Chapter shall eliminate the need for development activities involving grading to also obtain any other planning or construction permits, subdivision approvals, or permits or authorizations required by the Municipal Code, other provisions of this Land Use Code, or required by State or Federal agencies.

G.    Issuance of other City permits. Each City department, official and employee that is vested with the duty or responsibility to issue permits or licenses shall comply with the provisions of this Chapter and shall issue no permit or license for a use, structure or purpose where they would conflict with the provisions of this Chapter, or for a site where a violation of this Chapter exists.

H.    Submittal requirements. An application for a grading permit shall include a completed City application form and the following materials, each of which is further described in a Departmental handout:

1.    A site map and report;

2.    A grading plan;

3.    An erosion and sediment control plan, except that a short form may be submitted if all of the following conditions are met:

a.    The existing or natural slope is less than 15 percent;

b.    The total area of grading is less than one-quarter acre; and

c.    The proposed grading is not within a creek zone or wetland, and springs are not present.

4.    A revegetation plan if vegetation removal exceeds 1,000 square feet in area. (Ord. 1432, eff. 12/20/2013)

9.64.060 Grading Permit Application Filing and Processing

A.    Application requirements. An application for a grading permit shall include a completed City application form, the information and materials required by the Department, and the required filing fee. The application shall be filed with the Building Official.

B.    Application review and approval. Upon receipt of a complete application, the application shall be reviewed by the Building Official. In considering an application, the Building Official shall refer the application materials to the Community Development, Environmental Services, and Public Works Departments and to other agencies for review and recommendations. The final determination as to the adequacy of the application materials and compliance of the proposed grading with the requirements of this Chapter shall be by the Building Official with the consent of the City Engineer and the Environmental Services Director.

C.    Approval criteria. Grading permit and/or erosion and sediment control plan approval shall require that the Building Official first determine that the project is in substantial compliance with the provisions of this Chapter, Design Review recommendations on revegetation plans, and any other applicable provisions of City law, policy, and environmental review.

D.    Terms and conditions of grading permits. In approving an application, the Building Official or City Engineer may require any revisions or conditions as are necessary to achieve compliance with the requirements of this Chapter. The following terms and conditions shall be attached to all grading permits.

1.    All soil erosion and sediment control measures shall be implemented in strict compliance with this Chapter and in compliance with the approved erosion and sediment control plans.

2.    All erosion and sediment control measures shall be adequately maintained by the permittee for a period of three years or until the site is stabilized as determined by the City.

3.    If the City determines that the work does not comply with the provisions of the approved erosion and sediment control plan or with the provisions of this Chapter, the Building Official may issue a Stop Work Order stopping all work until such time as compliance is ensured.

4.    The costs of any remedial work determined by the Building Official or City Engineer to be necessary to protect completed work or to prevent damage shall be the responsibility of the permittee.

E.    Appeals. A decision in compliance with this Chapter may be appealed to the Planning Commission in compliance with Chapter 9.76 (Appeals).

9.64.070 Grading Standards

All grading, other land-disturbing activities, grading plans, revegetation plans, and erosion and sediment control plans shall comply with the standards in this Section and to any additional applicable standards in Chapters 9.52 (Hillside Development) and 9.59 (Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas Protection and Preservation).

A.    General standards. All grading or other land-disturbing activities and erosion and sediment control plans shall comply with the following general principles.

1.    The design, scope, and location of the proposed grading shall be compatible with adjacent areas and should result in minimal disturbance of the terrain and natural land features.

2.    The grading shall preserve, match, or blend with the natural contours and undulations of the land.

3.    Whenever practicable, trees and native vegetation should be retained to stabilize hillsides, retain moisture, reduce erosion, siltation and nutrient run-off, and to preserve the natural scenic beauty of the area.

4.    Scars from cuts and fills should be minimized; the amount of cuts and fills should be reduced and sharp angles at the top and sides of all necessary cut and fill slopes shall be rounded off, and/or a retaining wall acceptable to the City shall be constructed. Where a cut or fill slope occurs between two lots, the slope should normally be made a part of the downhill lot.

5.    Geologic hazards and adverse soil conditions shall be mitigated.

6.    All cleared slopes in cuts and fills and other areas vulnerable to erosion shall be stabilized.

7.    Construction, clearing of vegetation, or disturbance of the soil shall be limited to areas of proven stability.

8.    Sediment or other material deposited off the site shall not exceed that which would have been deposited if the land had been left in its natural state.

9.    The natural geologic erosion of hillsides, slopes, graded areas, cleared areas, filled areas, or stream banks should not be exceeded.

10.    New or modified erosion and sediment control techniques may be used provided there is mutual agreement between the City and permittee that the technique meets the intent of the erosion and sediment control plan and this Chapter.

B.    Sediment control standards.

1.    Sediment being transported by runoff generated from the site shall be retained on-site through the use of sediment basins, silt traps, or similar measures.

2.    All subsurface flows and surface runoff shall be contained and dispersed at non-erosive velocities into the common natural watercourse of the drainage area.

3.    Concentration of runoff shall only be permitted in swales or watercourses.

4.    In order to prevent polluting discharges from occurring, approved erosion and sediment control devices shall be required for all grading and filling. Control devices and measures which may be required include, but are not limited to, the following:

a.    Energy dissipating devices to reduce the velocity of runoff water; and

b.    Sediment controls such as sediment debris basins and sediment traps. Any trapped sediment shall be removed to a disposal site approved by the permit-issuing authority.

5.    Temporary seeding and mulching or other City approved method shall be required once an area is denuded for fourteen days after October 1.

6.    Mud shall be prevented from being tracked onto the public roadway or rights-of-way by either:

a.    Travel over a temporary gravel construction entrance;

b.    Washing off vehicle tires before entering a public road; or

c.    Other City approved method.

7.    All existing or newly-installed storm drainage structures shall be protected from sediment clogging by providing inlet protection and maintenance for any drains.

8.    A vegetative barrier shall be retained around property boundaries.

C.    Standards for revegetation.

1.    A permanent vegetative cover shall be established on denuded areas not otherwise stabilized.

2.    Permanent vegetation shall not be considered established until a ground cover is achieved which is mature enough to control soil erosion satisfactorily and to survive severe weather conditions.

3.    The type of plants used shall: be self-sustaining, require little or no maintenance, and not increase the fire hazard.

4.    Native plant species are encouraged.

D.    Slope construction standards.

1.    Slopes, both cut and fill, shall not be steeper than two run to one rise (2:1), unless a thorough geological and engineering analysis indicates that steeper slopes are safe and erosion and sediment control measures are specified.

2.    Long or steep slopes should be terraced at regular intervals to slow runoff and provide a place for sediment to settle out.

E.    Standards for protection of watercourses and drainage inlets.

1.    Fills shall not encroach on natural watercourse or constructed channels except as specified in Chapter 9.59 (Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas Protection and Preservation).

2.    Grading equipment shall not cross or disturb creek zones.

3.    Excavated materials shall not be deposited or stored in or alongside creek and wetland protection areas where the materials can be washed away by high water or storm runoff.

4.    Any storm drain inlet protection measure which completely blocks the drain entrance shall not be used. Waddles, straw bales, filter fabric wraps, or other City approved method shall be used in a manner that does not cause erosion, or flooding into a roadway.

F.    Standards for disposal of excavated materials.

1.    Some or all of the topsoil on the site shall be stockpiled for use on areas to be revegetated.

2.    Stockpiled soil shall be covered, and located so that if any erosion occurs, it would not migrate off-site.

3.    Stockpiled soil shall be located sufficient distance from streams or drainageways so that surface runoff cannot carry sediment downstream.

4.    Trenches and pits shall be promptly backfilled and compacted to reduce the risk of erosion and sediment.

5.    Mulch or other protective coverings shall be applied on stockpiled material or bare soils with an area larger than 200 square feet which will be exposed through the winter season.

6.    Excavated material not used at the site shall be disposed of at a location approved by the City.

9.64.080 Completion of Grading

Upon completion of the rough grading work and at the final completion of the work, the Building Official or City Engineer may require the following reports:

A.    An As-Graded Plan prepared by the civil engineer including a certification that the work was done in accordance with the final approved grading plan.

B.    A Soil Grading Report prepared by the soil engineering geologist including a certification as to the adequacy of the site for the intended use and as affected by geological features.