Chapter 15.20
GRADING, EXCAVATIONS AND FILLS

Sections:

15.20.010    Short Title.

15.20.020    Scope.

15.20.030    Definitions.

15.20.050    Exceptions.

15.20.060    Conditions For Permit Issuance.

15.20.070    Suspension and Revocation of Permit.

15.20.080    Time Extension for Work Completion.

15.20.090    Permit Nontransferable.

15.20.110    Review of Plans and Decision by City Engineer.

15.20.120    Review and Consideration of Large Scale Plans.

15.20.130    Notice of Hearing.

15.20.140    Approval of Application.

15.20.170    Regulations Generally for Permitted Grading.

15.20.180    Rainy Weather Work.

15.20.190    Hours of Work.

15.20.200    Rights-of-Way.

15.20.210    Traffic Control.

15.20.220    Nuisances.

15.20.230    Blasting.

15.20.240    Questionable Areas.

15.20.250    Inspection.

15.20.260    Supervised Grading.

15.20.270    Cessation of Work.

15.20.280    Standards Generally.

15.20.290    Excavations.

15.20.320    Drainage and Erosion Control.

15.20.350    Filling of Land Below Elevation 70, National Geodetic Vertical Datum (NGVD).

15.20.360    Variances and Alternates.

15.20.370    Findings.

15.20.380    Nonliability of City.

15.20.010 Short Title.

This chapter shall be known as the grading ordinance of the City. Chapter 70, Excavations and Drainage, Sections 7001 – 7015, of the current Uniform Building Code, is adopted by reference. Section 7003 of the Uniform Building Code is amended to read: “No person shall do grading without first having obtained a grading permit from the City Engineer or Director of Public Works.” (Ord. 696 § 1 (part), 1983; Ord. 662 § 1, 1981; Ord. 618 § 9, 1980; Ord. 432 § 1, 1972; Ord. 288 § 1A, 1962)

15.20.020 Scope.

A. The purpose of this chapter is to provide minimum standards to safeguard life and limb, protect property, limit erosion and the transportation of sediments, promote public welfare and the conservation of natural beauty by regulating and controlling the design, construction and maintenance of grading, whether excavation or fill, within the City.

B. These regulations shall apply to new excavations, fills, borrow pits, borrow areas and to alterations, changes, additions or repairs to existing excavations, fills, borrow pits and borrow areas. (Ord. 696 § 1 (part), 1983; Ord. 288 § 1B, 1962)

15.20.030 Definitions.

A. “City” is the City of Larkspur and departments and officials thereof.

B. “Commission” means the Planning Commission of the City.

C. “Permit” is the grading permit required by this chapter.

D. “Permittee” is the owner of the property or his authorized agent to whom the permit is issued.

E. “Qualified person” is a registered structural or civil engineer, geologist or other person who shall establish to the satisfaction of the City Engineer or Director of Public Works that he is an expert or a “qualified person” in the science of soils mechanics.

F. “Relative compaction” is a proportion of the maximum density of the material when compacted by AASHO T 180 method or California Test Method No. 231.

G. “Site” is any contiguous area on which construction or grading is planned.

H. “Grading” is the removal and/or placement of earth, rocks, dirt or other natural material lying upon the ground from, on, within or upon any public or private property within the City, in such a manner as to disturb, change or alter the existing terrain.

I. “City Engineer” is a qualified professional retained by City or designated representative.

J. “Handbook” refers to “Erosion of Sediment Control Handbook,” published May, 1976, by the California Department of Conservation Management.

K. “Officer” is the City Engineer, Director of Public Works or designated representative.

L. “Director” is the Director of Public Works. (Ord. 696 § 1 (part), 1983; Ord. 438 § 1, 1972; Ord. 288 § 1C, 1962)

15.20.050 Exceptions.

The provisions of this chapter shall not apply to the following: Hand-dug excavations of less than twenty-five cubic yards. (Ord. 696 § 1 (part), 1983; Ord. 438 § 3, 1972)

15.20.060 Conditions For Permit Issuance.

Issuance of permits may be made without condition and on the basis of the application as presented or may contain such conditions or reservations as may be required to insure the protection of public health and safety and as may be required to achieve conformity to LMC 15.20.170 et seq. (Ord. 696 § 1 (part), 1983; Ord. 288 § 2C, 1962)

15.20.070 Suspension and Revocation of Permit.

The City Engineer or Director of Public Works may either suspend or revoke a permit if it is found that:

A. Conditions at the site vary substantially from those stated on the application or shown on the grading plans; or

B. Construction or grading as it progresses does not conform to the approved plans, grades or other conditions of the permit; or

C. Cessation of work before completion has left the site in a condition hazardous to the public or the adjacent properties; or

D. The permittee does not complete the work within the time specified in the permit or an approved extension of time therefor; or

E. The work authorized under the permit has not commenced within four months of the date of issue of the permit or, after having been commenced, is not consistently and expeditiously prosecuted or carried forward toward completion. (Ord. 696 § 1 (part), 1983; Ord. 288 § 2D, 1962)

15.20.080 Time Extension for Work Completion.

The permittee may, before the expiration of a permit, apply for extension of time in which to complete the work authorized by a permit. The permittee shall set forth reasons for such extension and a new completion date. The City Manager, with the approval of the City Engineer, may grant such extension. A fee for said extension shall be established by resolution. (Ord. 853 § 2 (part), 1993; Ord. 696 § 1 (part), 1983; Ord. 288 § 2E, 1962)

15.20.090 Permit Nontransferable.

Permits issued under the provisions of this chapter are nontransferable. (Ord. 696 § 1 (part), 1983; Ord. 288 § 2F, 1962)

15.20.110 Review of Plans and Decision by City Engineer.

The City Engineer shall, upon receipt of completed application form, plans and other data, review the application and make such field reviews as may be deemed necessary to determine site conditions or the relation of the site to the adjoining properties, and to determine compliance with this chapter and other City ordinances. The City Engineer shall make such recommendation as to approval or denial or conditions thereof as he feels necessary, including the necessity and amount of any required bonding. (Ord. 696 § 1 (part), 1983; Ord. 432 § 3, 1972; Ord. 288 § 3B, 1962)

15.20.120 Review and Consideration of Large Scale Plans.

Any application which proposes a total amount of either excavation or fill exceeding one thousand cubic yards shall be reviewed by the Planning Commission. Prior to consideration of excavation or fill permit the applicant shall submit to the Planning Commission a master plan for the entire area of the proposed development. The master plan shall include drawings and documents in sufficient detail for the Planning Commission to made adequate decisions. If the master plan is approved, the Planning Commission shall then review and consider the excavation and fill permit and render its report and directions to the City Engineer. Whenever, in the opinion of the City Engineer, Director of Public Works or the Planning Commission, any application proposes grading which may exceed one thousand cubic yards (regardless of the declarations in the application), or whenever, in the opinion of the City Engineer, Director of Public Works or the Planning Commission, the application proposes grading which may adversely affect public health, safety, general welfare or the conservation of natural beauty, action upon such application shall be referred to the Planning Commission for approval or disapproval. (Ord. 696 § 1 (part), 1983; Ord. 432 § 4, 1972; Ord. 288 § 3C, 1972)

15.20.130 Notice of Hearing.

Notice of time and place of such Planning Commission review or hearing shall be given by mailing a notice at least ten days prior to the meeting to all property owners within a radius of three hundred feet from the exterior boundaries of the property affected, using addresses from the last adopted tax roll of the City and by mailing a copy of the notice to the applicant, using the address given by him upon his application. Each such copy of notice shall state the time and place of review or hearing. (Ord. 696 § 1 (part), 1983; Ord. 288 § 3D, 1962)

15.20.140 Approval of Application.

A. Applications shall be approved in which the proposed design and use and the proposed construction procedures are found to meet the requirements of this chapter and other applicable ordinances.

B. Applications may be denied when in the opinion of the City Engineer, Director of Public Works or Planning Commission, based on a review of the plan and application submitted, the proposed design or use, or construction methods proposed, endanger life or limb, or threaten or endanger the general welfare or conservation of natural beauty within the City.

C. In the event that the grading proposed does not meet the requirements of this chapter, or threatens life or limb or endangers the conservation of natural beauty, in the opinion of the City Engineer, Director of Public Works or the Planning Commission, as the case may be, such issuing authority may direct that the permit be issued only upon compliance with certain static conditions deemed necessary to meet the requirements of this section.

D. Upon authorization by the City Engineer, Director of Public Works or the Planning Commission, if required, approval should be noted on the application and plans by the City Manager, who shall, upon payment of permit fees, the posting of any required bond and presentation of public liability insurance certificate, issue a permit, including thereon a full statement of such conditions, if any. (Ord. 696 § 1 (part), 1983; Ord. 438 § 2, 1972; Ord. 288 § 3E, 1962)

15.20.170 Regulations Generally for Permitted Grading.

The following regulations are applicable to grading performed pursuant to permits issued under this chapter. (Ord. 696 § 1 (part), 1983; Ord. 288 § 5 (part), 1962)

15.20.180 Rainy Weather Work.

Without special provision therefor in the permit, excavation or filling may be prohibited or stopped by the Director of Public Works during the times in which in his/her opinion rainfall precludes compliance with this chapter or permit conditions. Projects not scheduled for completion prior to October 15th of any year must provide an interim drainage and erosion control plan for City approval. The approved controls must be installed by October 15th of any year. Notwithstanding the provisions herein, Chapter 18.34 LMC, Chapter 2.50 LMC, if it is determined by the Public Works Director and/or the City Engineer, in his/her/their discretion, that there exists a condition which creates an immediate threat and danger to the public peace, health or safety, the Public Works Director and/or the City Engineer may, in his/her/their discretion, and without a hearing of the Planning Commission or City Council, immediately issue permits necessary for excavation and/or filling if the Public Works Director and/or City Engineer determines there has been compliance with relevant provisions of this chapter or other Larkspur Municipal Code provisions and that approval and issuance of said permits based on criteria herein are appropriate. The Director of Public Works and/or the City Engineer in such a situation may impose any conditions they feel necessary. Within ten days of issuing such permits, a written report will be presented to the City Council. (Ord. 899 § 1, 1998; Ord. 696 § 1 (part), 1983; Ord. 288 § 5A, 1962)

15.20.190 Hours of Work.

A. Grading of any real property shall only take place during the following time periods:

Monday through Friday excluding holidays

Seven a.m. to six p.m.

B. The Director of Public Works may allow the following exception to the provisions of subsection (A) above: when an unforeseen or unavoidable condition occurs during a construction project and the nature of the project necessitates that work in progress be continued until a specific phase is completed, the contractor or owner may, with the consent of the Director of Public Works, be allowed to continue work after six p.m. and to operate machinery and equipment necessary until completion of the specific work in progress can be brought to conclusion under conditions which will not jeopardize inspection acceptance or create undue financial hardships for the contractor or owner. (Ord. 696 § 1 (part), 1983)

15.20.200 Rights-of-Way.

Encroachment of operations on public rights-of-way is prohibited, except for hauling of legal loads by vehicles permitted by law to operate on public roads. The Director of Public Works may authorize temporary encroachment for operations whenever, in his/her opinion, no public inconvenience or loss will be sustained thereby. (Ord. 696 § 1 (part), 1983; Ord. 288 § 5C, 1962)

15.20.210 Traffic Control.

Traffic control on affected streets shall be provided to the satisfaction of the Director of Public Works, so as to provide a minimum of public inconvenience and traffic disruption. (Ord. 696 § 1 (part), 1983; Ord. 288 § 5D, 1962)

15.20.220 Nuisances.

Operations shall be controlled by the permittee to the satisfaction of the Director of Public Works, so as to prevent nuisances to public and private ownerships because of dust, drainage, removal of natural support, encroachment, noise and vibrations. (Ord. 696 § 1 (part), 1983; Ord. 288 § 5E, 1962)

15.20.230 Blasting.

Blasting, or other use of explosives, is prohibited, except when in accordance with regulations of the general industry safety orders of the Division of Industrial Safety of the State of California and Title 19 of the State Administrative Code and applicable City ordinances. (Ord. 696 § 1 (part), 1983; Ord. 288 § 5F, 1962)

15.20.240 Questionable Areas.

Excavation and filling over or adjacent to old fills, swamp or marsh lands and areas known to be potential slide areas are prohibited until a report by a qualified person has been submitted thereon and a special permit has been granted therefor under LMC 15.20.110 through 15.20.140. Recommendations presented in such a report as to materials, equipment or procedures to be incorporated in the construction may be incorporated in the permit as conditions of approval of the application. (Ord. 696 § 1 (part), 1983; Ord. 288 § 5G, 1962)

15.20.250 Inspection.

The City Engineer or Director of Public Works has the right to enter the improvement site at all times to inspect operating procedures, progress, prospective developments and compliance with the permit. (Ord. 696 § 1 (part), 1983; Ord. 288 § 5H, 1962)

15.20.260 Supervised Grading.

Where construction is such that frequent or continuous inspection during construction operations is deemed necessary by the City Engineer or Director of Public Works, the City may direct that either the City or the permittee shall retain a qualified person to furnish supervision and inspection of the work and make all necessary field tests during grading operations, or the City will provide such inspection and supervision at the expense of the permittee who will pay therefor upon demand by the City. Upon completion of the work under permit, the qualified person shall certify in writing that the grading and related work (including drainage provisions, slope stability, erosion prevention methods and methods of placing, stabilizing and compacting fills) was performed under his/her supervision. He/she shall therein state whether or not it was performed in accordance with the requirements of this chapter and accepted engineering practices and shall describe any deviation therefrom. The certificate of the qualified person shall state his/her opinion as to the adequacy of the cut or fill for the intended use. (Ord. 696 § 1 (part), 1983; Ord. 288 § 51, 1962)

15.20.270 Cessation of Work.

Should the permittee cease work for any reason before the work is completed, he shall take all steps necessary to leave the premises in a condition that will not violate this chapter or any of the terms of his/her permit to the satisfaction of the Director of Public Works, and in a condition that will not cause damage to adjoining properties or to the public roads or other public place through erosion of materials or landslides. (Ord. 696 § 1 (part), 1983; Ord. 288 § 5J, 1962)

15.20.280 Standards Generally.

The standards set forth in LMC 15.20.290 through 15.20.370 shall be conformed to in all cases. (Ord. 696 § 1 (part), 1983; Ord. 288 § 6 (part), 1962)

15.20.290 Excavations.

A. Slope. The slope of the bank in an excavation shall not be steeper than two horizontal to one vertical unless the stability of a steeper slope is certified by a qualified person, except the officer granting the permit may require slopes to be flatter if soil conditions appear to be unfavorable, or if an adjacent foundation or structure may be endangered. Steeper slopes may be permitted if expressly so provided in the permit.

B. Height. The vertical height of any excavated slope shall not exceed thirty feet, measured from the toe of the slope to the highest natural ground on such slope.

C. Setback. Neither the top nor the toe of any excavation slopes shall be closer than two feet to the property line. (Ord. 696 § 1 (part), 1983; Ord. 288 § 6A, 1962)

15.20.320 Drainage and Erosion Control.

A. To reasonably mitigate the transportation of sediments to storm drains, drainage or waterways, Erosion and Sediment Control Plans (ESCPs) are required as specified in LMC 9.11.100. The Director of Public Works may also require a soils engineer’s report covering the erosion characteristics of the site’s soils. The soils engineer’s report shall be submitted together with the ESCP. All controls and facilities shall be designed in accordance with the soils report and consistent with the ESCP requirements specified in LMC 9.11.100. The City may also require more stringent controls.

B. Drainage facilities shall be designed so as to provide capacity necessary to carry off a twenty-five-year storm, unless otherwise required by the officer granting the permit, but in no case shall culverts in the public rights-of-way be less than fifteen inches in diameter.

C. Subsurface Drainage. Where evidence indicates the presence of subsurface waters which may contribute to sliding or settlement of the earth surface either in an undisturbed state, or likely to result from grading operations, the City may require the construction of, or installation of, such subsurface and surface facilities as may be deemed necessary to collect such subsurface waters as may contribute to the existing or anticipated slide or settlement condition and may require its conveyance to an adequate natural watercourse or public drainage system.

D. Ground Cover. Whenever slope surfaces result from grading operations on the site, suitable vegetation for ground cover as specified in California Stormwater Quality Association Stormwater Best Management Practices Construction Handbook or equivalent shall be planted and maintained until growth is established. (Ord. 1005 § 4, 2015; Ord. 696 § 1 (part), 1983; Ord. 662 § 2, 1981; Ord. 288 § 6D, 1962)

15.20.350 Filling of Land Below Elevation 70, National Geodetic Vertical Datum (NGVD).

Where fill is to be placed on land below Elevation 70, NGVD, the following requirements, in addition to the other provisions of this chapter, shall be met:

A. Minimum Elevation. The minimum elevation after ultimate settlement shall be as follows:

1. 70 – Streets, lot pads, driveways, parking areas and other specified areas.

2. 80 – Finished floor of structures.

These minimum elevations apply to areas immediately adjacent to tidal influence which are unaffected by storm water run-off. Where storm water run-off, wind action and wave action are a factor, the above minimum elevations shall be increased and a reasonable freeboard provided.

B. Ultimate Settlement. Ultimate settlement means that settlement which is predicted to occur over a thirty year period, commencing with the completion of all fill operations.

C. Normal Drainage. The street grades and storm drainage system shall be designed for the maximum design storm flowing against a one-hundred-year tide elevation of 63 NGVD. The system must be designed so that gravity drainage will be adequate after ultimate settlement has occurred.

1. Major waterways having a drainage area of four square miles, or more, shall be designed for an average recurrence interval of one hundred years.

2. All other waterways less than four square miles shall be designed for an average recurrence interval of twenty five years.

D. Special Drainage. In those cases where the tributary drainage system entering the area to be filled cannot be made to comply with subsection (C) of this section, then one of the following alternates shall be provided:

1. Within each such project a holding pond or interconnecting ponds shall be provided. The combined areas of such ponds shall be not less than one-twentieth of the total area drained, including any outside tributary area. The bottom elevation of the ponds shall be not higher than minus three feet.

2. The culverts draining such holding ponds shall be at least twelve inches in diameter, be equipped with tide gates at the discharge ends and shall have a minimum combined cross-sectional area in square feet equal to eight-one hundredths times the total number of acres drained, including outside tributary area.

3. In lieu of the holding ponds, pumps may be provided to handle surface water runoff during the time the discharge end of drain lines is below water. The pumps shall meet the following requirements:

a. Capacity shall be adequate to handle maximum runoff for the fifty-year storm from area, including any tributary areas.

b. Discharge from pump shall be to a tidal channel and, if below water, shall be provided with necessary check valves.

c. Pumps shall operate automatically when the gravity drain lines stop functioning. (Ord. 696 § 1 (part), 1983; Ord. 288 § 6G, 1962)

15.20.360 Variances and Alternates.

At the time of the initial filing of an application or at any time during progress of the work, either the applicant or the City Engineer or the Director of Public Works may propose variances from or alternate to any of the requirements and standards above set forth or stated in any previous permit. Such variances and alternates shall then be reviewed by the officer by whom review is directed under LMC 15.20.110 through 15.20.140 and the variance or alternate may be authorized if he or it shall find that the general public and adjacent property owners will be equally protected thereby. However, no person shall be entitled to any such variance or alternate as a matter of right, and approval thereof shall be strictly discretionary with the reviewing authority. In the absence of approval of such variance or alternate, the requirements and standards set forth in this chapter shall be strictly adhered to. (Ord. 696 § 1 (part), 1983; Ord. 288 § 6H, 1962)

15.20.370 Findings.

The determination and finding of the officer denying or granting any permit (either with or without conditions), or approving or disapproving any requested variance or alternate, shall be final and conclusive as to all facts, conditions and science involved in and pertinent to such action, unless an appeal is taken as hereinafter provided. A failure to take such appeal or an acceptance of a conditional permit, will constitute approval by the applicant or permittee of all such determinations and findings. (Ord. 696 § 1 (part), 1983; Ord. 288 § 61, 1962)

15.20.380 Nonliability of City.

The City shall not be responsible for any damage to persons or property by reason of the inspection or reinspection authorized herein or failure to inspect or reinspect, nor by reason of the terms or conditions of the permit issued nor by reason of the approval or disapproval of any construction. (Ord. 696 § 1 (part), 1983; Ord. 288 § 8A, 1962)