Chapter 18.50


18.50.010    Purpose

18.50.030    Archaeological Resource Preservation

18.50.040    Filling

18.50.050    Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas

18.50.080    Water Supply

18.50.010 - Purpose

This Chapter provides standards for proposed development and new land uses to ensure the protection of sensitive resources and to implement applicable provisions of the General Plan. Article 6 (Site Development Regulations) provides requirements, standards, and procedures for grading, erosion and sediment control, and urban runoff pollution control.

18.50.030 - Archaeological Resource Preservation

A.    Purpose. The requirements of this Section are intended to ensure that appropriate safeguards are established and followed in order to protect archaeological and paleontological resources, as well as sacred sites and/or traditional cultural properties (TCPs) whose potential location is identified, or which are discovered as a result of development activity within the City.

B.    Applicability. Before commencing any digging, grading, or any other ground disturbing activity in advance of construction of an approved development project within the following areas, an archeological and paleontological resource review shall clarify that duplicate studies will not be required in compliance with this Chapter. Historic structures are instead subject to the requirements of Chapter 18.74 (Cultural Resource Preservation). Note: duplicate surveys are not required if an existing survey is on file at City Hall and/or the California Historic Information Resources Center at Sonoma State University and if that survey’s methodologies are viewed as being appropriate and substantive enough for the development project under review.

1.    Noyo River. All of the areas located adjacent to the Noyo River;

2.    Special review Areas. Identified on map LC-2; and/or

3.    Other areas identified by the Director. Other areas identified by the environmental review process (Chapter 18.72), or brought to the attention of the City through special studies performed after the enactment of this Section, as having the potential for containing archaeological or paleontological resources.

C.    Procedures. All development activity occurring within the areas identified in Subsection B. (Applicability), above shall comply with the following procedures:

1.    Report required. Where development proposals are for an area in which there are known archaeological or paleontological resources or sacred sites or TCPs on the site or in the vicinity, or where there is a moderate to high probability for previously unidentified archaeological, paleontological, and/or TCP resources to be encountered during the development activity, and where it is determined by the Director that no adequate prior assessment of on-site resources has been completed, a report shall be prepared by a qualified archaeologist before the issuance of other discretionary permit approvals.

a.    At a minimum, the report shall identify and evaluate all archaeological and paleontological resources, including sacred sites and TCPs, in the areas of the site proposed to be disturbed by the project, assess the effects of the proposed development on those resources, and recommend appropriate resource preservation and/or mitigation measures to adequately address the identified effects.

b.    If cultural resources are identified, a copy of the report shall also be transmitted to the State Historical Preservation Officer, and any federally-recognized Native American tribes who have expressed interest in the project for review and comment.

The Director may waive the requirement for a report if the Director determines that an existing report satisfies this requirement.

2.    Mitigation measures required.

Under both CEQA and NHPA, avoidance of historic resources is the preferred course of action. When avoidance of the resources is not feasible, mitigation measures shall be adopted under CEQA.

a.    Where proposed development activity will adversely affect archaeological or paleontological resources, including sacred sites and/or TCPs, the City shall require reasonable and necessary mitigation measures.

b.    Mitigation shall be designed in compliance with CEQA Guidelines and the guidance of the State Office of Historic Preservation, and the State Native American Heritage Commission.

D.    Discovery of resources. All development activity within the City shall comply with the following requirements.

1.    When, in the course of digging, grading, or any other activity in advance of construction of an approved development project, evidence of archaeological, paleontological, or other potentially significant historic resources is discovered, all work which could potentially damage or destroy the resources shall cease immediately.

2.    The Director shall be notified immediately of the discovery and engage an archaeologist to determine if the discovery is significant and the correct course of action to avoid, minimize and/or mitigate damage to the resource

3.    The Director shall notify the State Historic Preservation Officer and federally-recognized Native American tribes who have expressed an interest in the project of the discovery.

4.    All work which could potentially damage or destroy the resources shall be halted until appropriate avoidance, minimization, and/or mitigation measures can be developed and implemented.

18.50.040 - Diking, Filling, and Dredging

A.    Purpose. The provisions of this Section are intended to limit the diking, filling, or dredging of open waters, wetlands, and estuaries to the extent allowed by the Army Corps of Engineers and other resource agencies.

B.    Work in biologically sensitive habitats: Special Review Areas. Any diking, filling, or dredging activity shall comply with the requirements of Chapter 18.58 (Wetland Protection and Restoration), as applicable.

C.    Limitation on purposes of diking, filling, and dredging. Diking, filling, or dredging shall be allowed to accomplish the following purposes.

1.    Incidental public service purposes, including but not limited to burying cables and pipes or inspection of piers and maintenance of existing intake and outfall pipes;

2.    Restoration;

3.    Nature study, aquaculture, or similar resource dependent activities;

4.    Maintaining, expanding, or restoring water storage, transportation, or treatment resources for public utilities; or

5.    Other activities as deemed acceptable by the Army Corp of Engineers, the California Department of Fish and Game and other agencies with regulatory authority.

D.    Development standards.

1.    Dredging. When consistent with the provisions of this Section, and where necessary to maintain the continued viability of wetland habitat, or for flood control purposes, dredging shall comply with the following requirements.

a.    Dredging shall be prohibited in breeding and nursery areas and during periods of fish migration and spawning.

b.    Dredging shall be limited to the smallest areas feasible.

c.    Designs for dredging and excavation projects shall include protective measures such as silt curtains, diapers, and weirs to protect water quality in adjacent areas during construction by preventing the discharge of refuse, petroleum spills, and unnecessary dispersal of silt materials.

2.    Diking. Diking or the filling of a wetland shall, at a minimum, require the following mitigation measures, in addition to compliance with the requirements of Chapter 18.58 (Wetland Protection and Restoration).

a.    Equivalent areas shall be provided for other sources of surface water. This applies to diked or filled areas which themselves are not environmentally sensitive habitat areas, but would become so if they were opened to tidal action or provided with other sources of surface water.

b.    Wherever feasible, mitigation by restoration of wetlands shall be the same type of wetlands as those filled (e.g., freshwater for freshwater).

E.    Findings required for approval. The approval of diking, filling, or dredging shall require that the Review Authority first find that the functional capacity of the resource area will be maintained or enhanced after diking, filling or dredging of a wetland or estuary. Functional capacity means the ability of the wetland or estuary to be self-sustaining and to maintain natural species diversity. In order to establish that the functional capacity is being maintained, the applicant shall demonstrate and the Review Authority shall find that:

1.    Presently occurring plant and animal populations in the ecosystem will not be altered in a manner that would impair the long-term stability of the ecosystem; i.e., natural species diversity, abundance and composition are essentially unchanged as a result of the project; and

2.    A species or habitat that is rare or endangered will not be harmed; and

3.    A species or habitat essential to the natural biological functioning of the wetland or estuary will not be harmed; and

4.    Consumptive (e.g., fishing, aquaculture and hunting) or nonconsumptive (e.g., water quality and research opportunity) values of the wetland or estuarine ecosystem will not be significantly reduced.

18.50.050 - Special Review Areas: Biologically Sensitive Areas

This Section provides requirements for the protection and enhancement of sensitive habitat areas when development is proposed adjacent to, or within habitat areas. See also Chapter 18.52 (Creek and Riparian Resource Protection).

A.    Applicability. The provisions of this Section apply to all development proposed on sites that include Biologically Sensitive Areas.

B.    Biological resources report. A planning permit application for development on a site that is subject to this Section shall include a biological resources report that complies with the following requirements.

1.    Qualifications of preparer. The report shall be prepared by individuals approved by the City with demonstrated education, training, or experience to prepare these plans in a professional and competent manner. Acceptance of additional experts may be authorized by the Director upon receipt of a resume demonstrating an individual’s special capabilities. The Director’s decision to accept or deny a consulting biologist shall be final.

2.    Report contents. A biological resources report shall:

a.    Evaluate the impact the development may have on the habitat, and whether the development will be consistent with the biological continuance of the habitat. The report shall identify the maximum feasible mitigation measures to protect the resource and a program for monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of the mitigation measures.

b.    Identify potential significant impacts on the habitat from noise, sediment, and other potential disturbances that may occur during project construction.

c.    Identify setbacks from habitat areas to protect the habitat.

d.    Recommend conditions of approval for habitat maintenance, and the restoration of damaged habitats, where feasible.

C.    General development standards.

1.    Performance standards. All development adjacent to or within Biologically Sensitive Areas shall comply with the following requirements, to the maximum extent feasible.

a.    New development shall be designed, sited, constructed, and maintained so as to not significantly disrupt the resource.

b.    Where feasible, damaged habitats shall be restored as a condition of development approval.

c.    Development shall be consistent with the biological continuance of the habitat.

2.    Vegetation removal. Existing native vegetation shall not be removed within a Biologically Sensitive Area, as part of a development project, unless authorized through Section 7, 404 permit or CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) approval to accommodate proposed construction.

3.    Landscaping. A landscaping plan shall be submitted to the City for approval prior to construction for any site where development will disturb existing or potential native plant habitat. The plan shall provide for vegetation restoration in compliance with Subsection C.2 above. Landscaping with exotic plants shall be limited to outdoor living space immediately adjacent to the proposed development. Invasive non-native plants including Pampas grass, Acacia, Genista, and non-native iceplant pose a threat to indigenous plant communities and shall not be approved as part of any proposed landscaping.

4.    Resource protection during construction. Habitat areas containing vegetation that is essential to the maintenance of the habitat and/or rare or endangered plant or animal species shall be protected from disturbance by construction activities. Temporary wire mesh fencing shall be placed around habitat prior to construction, and protected areas shall not be used by workers or for the storage of machinery or materials. Inspections for compliance shall occur during construction.

5.    Resource protection after construction. After construction, unpaved areas shall be replanted to provide for the reestablishment of a 100 percent vegetation cover within two years. At five years, the site should support the same habitat removed. Remedial actions (e.g., planting of native species and removal of invasive horticultural species) shall be implemented as necessary to ensure that the site will consist of at least 75 percent native species at the end of five years.

6.    Herbicide use. The use and disposal of any herbicides for invasive species removal shall follow the written directions of the manufacturer, shall comply with all conditions imposed by the City, and shall be accomplished in a manner that will fully protect adjacent native vegetation.

D.    Required findings. A planning permit on a site that is subject to the requirements of this Section may be approved only when the Review Authority first finds that there will be no significant negative impact on the sensitive habitat, and the proposed development and use will be consistent with the biological continuance of the habitat, in addition to all other findings required by these regulations for the planning permit by Chapter 18.71 (Permit Review and Decisions).

18.50.080 - Water Supply

The quality and quantity of groundwater supplies shall be maintained, and where feasible, restored through control of wastewater discharge and entrainment, runoff controls and prevention of groundwater depletion, enforced as follows.

A.    All new development for which water or sewer service is needed shall be connected to the City water or sewer systems. Permits shall be withheld subject to applicant compliance with this provision. Limited exceptions to this requirement may be allowed by the Review Authority in special or hardship circumstances and where accompanied by specific findings.

B.    Existing development currently utilizing well and/or septic systems that do not meet health standards shall convert to City water and sewer. No permit for renovation, reconstruction, rehabilitation or renewal shall be granted without applicant compliance with this provision.