Chapter 17.52
Creek and Riparian Resource Protection


17.52.010    Purpose

17.52.020    Applicability

17.52.030    Stream Channel Analysis

17.52.040    Limitation on Streambed Alteration

17.52.050    Development Standards

17.52.010 - Purpose

This Chapter provides standards for the protection of watercourse and riparian resources within the City, including provisions for retaining the watercourses as valuable natural, scenic, and recreational amenities as appropriate.

17.52.020 - Applicability

The provisions of this Chapter apply to the review of planning permits, including coastal development permits, for proposed development on any site within the City that is adjacent to riparian ESHA or crossed by a watercourse. This Chapter supplements the procedures and standards of Section 17.50.050 (Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas).

17.52.030 - Stream Channel Analysis

In addition to the biological report required by Section 17.50.050(B) (Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas), each planning permit application for a project that is subject to this Chapter shall include a site-specific stream channel analysis prepared by a hydrologist, civil engineer, or other qualified professional approved by the City to identify the precise boundary/top of bank of the watercourse. The Director may waive this requirement if it is determined that the project, because of its size, location, or design will have no impact on the watercourse, or that sufficient information already exists and further analysis is not necessary. A required stream channel analysis shall include all information and materials required by the Department. The “top of bank” shall mean the upper elevation of land, having a slope not exceeding 10 percent, which confines the channel waters flowing in the watercourse in their normal winter flow.

17.52.040 - Limitation on Streambed Alteration

Channelization, dams or other substantial alterations of rivers and streams shall incorporate the best mitigation measures feasible, and shall be limited to:

A.    Water supply projects, provided that quantity and quality of water from streams shall be maintained at levels necessary to sustain functional capacity of streams, wetlands, estuaries and lakes.

B.    Flood control projects, where such protection is necessary for public safety or to protect existing commercial or residential structures, when no feasible alternative to streambed alteration is available; and

C.    Developments where the primary function is the improvement of fish and wildlife habitat.

Streambed alterations shall not be conducted unless consistent with all applicable provisions of the Local Coastal Program and these regulations and if applicable, permit approval from the California Department of Fish and Game, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and California State Water Resources Control Board.

17.52.050 - Development Standards

A.    All development adjacent to riparian ESHA shall comply with the general development standards and ESHA buffer requirements of Sections 17.50.050 (D) and (H).

B.    Removal or alteration of riparian ESHA. The removal, cutting or alteration of ESHA within a riparian habitat shall be prohibited except for:

1.    Vegetation removal authorized through coastal permit approval to accommodate permissible development;

2.    Removal of trees for disease control;

3.    Public safety purposes to abate a nuisance consistent with Coastal Act Section 30005; or

4.    Removal of firewood for the personal use of the property owner at his or her residence to the extent that such removal does not constitute development pursuant to Coastal Act Section 30106.

C.    Bank stabilization. Where bank stabilization is approved consistent with the allowable use provisions of Sections 17.52.040 and 17.52.050, such stabilization shall comply with the following:

1.    Rehabilitation is the preferred method of stabilization, with the objective of maintaining the natural character of the watercourse and riparian area. Rehabilitation may include enlarging the channel at points of obstruction, clearing obstructions at points of constriction, limiting uses in areas of excessive erosion, and restoring riparian vegetation.

2.    Concrete channels and other mechanical stabilization measures shall not be allowed unless no other alternative exists.

3.    If bank stabilization requires other than rehabilitation or vegetative methods, hand-placed stone or rock rip-rap are the preferred methods.

D.    Design of drainage improvements. Where daylighted drainage improvements are approved, they shall be placed in the least visible locations and naturalized through the use of river rock, earthtone concrete, and landscaping with native plant materials.