Chapter 6.32


6.32.010    Intent—Purpose.

6.32.020    Scope.

6.32.030    Definitions.

6.32.040    Procedures Responsibility.

6.32.050    Permit required.

6.32.060    Exceptions.

6.32.070    Filing of map of proposed earth movement.

6.32.080    Standards for excavations and fills.

6.32.090    Compaction of fills.

6.32.100    Construction of controlled fills.

6.32.110    Relationship of buildings to cut and fill slopes.

6.32.120    Responsibility of permittee.

6.32.130    Condition.

6.32.140    Filing—Renewal fees.

6.32.150    Posting.

6.32.160    Inspections on excavations and fills.

6.32.170    Existing excavations and fills.

6.32.180    Dust.

6.32.190    Approval of work by city.

6.32.200    Installation—Maintenance of protective devices.

6.32.210    Owner not relieved of responsibility.

6.32.220    Cash deposit—Surety bond.

6.32.230    Covering cesspool required when excavation unattended.

6.32.010 Intent—Purpose.

The purpose of this chapter is to establish minimum requirements for excavating, grading and filling on all private property within the City, in order that such property and all property adjacent thereto may be afforded reasonable protection against the danger to life, limb and property, and to establish the procedures by which these requirements are to be enforced. In adopting this chapter the City Council declares the regulations and standards established in this chapter to be reasonable regulations necessary for the protection of health, safety and general welfare. (Ord. 38 Sec. 1, 1965)

6.32.020 Scope.

No person shall do any grading not in compliance with this chapter. If two or more provisions of this chapter, and any other applicable law, are in conflict, that which provides the greater safety shall prevail. (Ord. 38 Sec. 2, 1965)

6.32.030 Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter, the following terms are defined as follows:

(1)    “Building pad” means a relatively flat site which is designed to be occupied by buildings and is prepared by artificial means, including grading, excavating, filling, or any combination thereof;

(2)    “Contractor” means any person properly licensed by the State of California to perform work as described in this section;

(3)    “Developer” means any person, firm or corporation developing or contemplating the development of land within the City for any use whatsoever;

(4)    “Engineer” means a civil engineer, registered in the State of California, experienced in the field of land development, grading and drainage;

(5)    “Excavation” means any act by which dirt, earth, sand, gravel, rock, or any other similar material is cut into, dug, quarried, uncovered, removed, displaced or relocated, and shall include the conditions resulting therefrom;

(6)    “Fill” means any act by which dirt, earth, sand, gravel, rock or any other similar material is deposited, placed, pushed, pulled or transported to a place other than the place from which is was excavated, or any material that has been loosened or disturbed from its natural state where it was deposited by evolution of geological processes;

(7)    “Grading” means excavation or fill or any combination thereof and shall include the conditions resulting from any excavation or fill;

(8)    “Grading plan” means a plan or map showing the property boundaries, existing contours and proposed final grades resulting from grading operations;

(9)    “Mining operation” means any grading operation that exceeds the maximum amount of grading allowed without a grading permit and is done without an approved building development plan. A mining operation as a land use is subject to all zoning prohibitions, restrictions, and regulations of the applicable zone.

(10)    “Owner” means the owner of the land affected.

(11)    “Soil engineer” means a civil engineer, registered in the State of California, with a specialty and experience in the analysis of soils. (Ord. 985 Sec. 1, 2015; Ord. 38 Sec. 3, 1965)

6.32.040 Procedures Responsibility.

(a)    It shall be the responsibility of the developer, engineer, contractor or owner to obtain the services of a soils engineer.

(b)    Whenever the terms “written certification,” “approved in writing,” “specified in writing,” “confirm in writing,” or similar terms are used in this chapter, it shall be required that the soils engineer prepare such written documentation and that a copy of said documentation, signed by the soils engineer, be forwarded immediately upon completion to:

(1)    The developer;

(2)    The engineer;

(3)    The City Engineer, to be a matter of permanent record on file with the Public Works Department of the City;

(4)    Any other agencies as might be required by City, County, State, or federal law. (Ord. 38 Sec. 4, 1965)

6.32.050 Permit required.

A permit from the Public Works Department is required, except as set forth in Section 6.32.060, before the commencement of any physical work to raise or lower the existing grade of any lot, parcel or portion thereof, or for any excavation or filling which changes the grade of the natural slope of the surface of any lot, parcel or portion thereof so that it will not take natural runoff of water from adjacent lots or parcels as before the excavation or fill, or so that the surface drainage of the lot, parcel or portion thereof is concentrated or collected and discharges unto another lot or parcel in a different location or in greater quantity, or at an accelerated rate, or in such a way that it will probably result in damage, or in a way that creates a hazard to the public health, safety, or public property. Any permit issued hereunder shall be valid for the period specified, but shall not exceed one year. Unless the earth movement is commenced within the time specified in the permit, the permit shall expire; and if work upon such earth movement, after being started, ceases for a period of 90 days, the permit shall expire. Permits may be renewed by the Public Works Department upon payment of the renewal fee provided for in Section 6.32.140; however, any grading project that has exceeded the original termination date on the originally issued grading permit, regardless of any approved renewals, is deemed a nuisance and a negative impact to the community. An impact mitigation fine schedule to be determined by the City Council shall be due and payable by the owner. Failure to pay any impact mitigation fines will result in the levy of the fines against the property as a lien. (Ord. 985 Sec. 1, 2015; Ord. 38 Sec. 5, 1965)

6.32.060 Exceptions.

The following are specifically excepted from the provisions of this chapter:

(1)    An excavation below finished grade for a basement or footings for a building, or swimming pool, or other structures authorized by a valid building permit which has been issued by the City, but this exception shall not affect the applicability of any provisions of this chapter to any fill made with the material of such excavation;

(2)    Notwithstanding anything to the contrary stated in this code, including Chapter 15.04, grading by excavation to a depth two feet or less; grading by fill to a height not exceeding one foot; grading by excavation or fill involving material which does not exceed a volume of 60 cubic yards, which grading is conducted on a lot or parcel established by a recorded deed or a recorded final subdivision or parcel map;

(3)    Any reclamation or rubbish disposal site operated by a government agency;

(4)    Any work done in City streets where a permit therefor has been granted under any City law, ordinance or regulation;

(5)    Any work done in order to protect the public health, safety and welfare in the event of emergency or disaster. (Ord. 985 Sec. 1, 2015; Ord. 339 Sec. 1, 1975; Ord. 38 Sec. 6, 1965)

6.32.070 Filing of map of proposed earth movement.

With the application for a permit and prior to commencement of work, there shall be submitted:

(1)    A finished grading plan prepared by the engineer showing the present contours extended a reasonable distance beyond the perimeter of the land, existing structures and facilities, and the proposed final grades. The proposed final grades shall clearly indicate cuts, fills and slopes. The estimated volumes of cut and/or fill and estimated dates for starting and completing the work shall be stated;

(2)    A written report shall be submitted by the soils engineer. The report shall indicate the type of soil, the unit foundation bearing values for the proposed construction at final grade, and include any pertinent data or opinion as to slopes which may be safely constructed;

(3)    Details of drainage structures, walls, cribbings, surface protection and landscaping that will be constructed or installed on the site. (Ord. 38 Sec. 7, 1965)

6.32.080 Standards for excavations and fills.

(a)    Steepness of slopes.

(1)    No excavation shall be made with a cut face steeper than one and one-half horizontal to one vertical, nor shall fills be made with slopes steeper than two horizontal to one vertical;

(2)    Steeper slopes than those required in subsection (1) above shall be permitted by the City Engineer, subject to the following conditions: A written report by a soils engineer, stating that he has investigated the site, made adequate tests and calculations, together with his opinion as to the degree of cut and/or fill slopes which may be constructed without endangering health, safety, or property.

(b)    Maximum height of slopes. No cut or fill slopes shall be constructed over 30 feet in height, unless the City Engineer is furnished evidence by a written report of a soils engineer that such slopes will be stable with a factor of safety at least one and five-tenths.

(c)    Drainage, general. All drainage provisions shall be of such design as to carry surface waters along a course approved by the City Engineer to the nearest practical street, storm drain, or natural watercourse, or a safe place to deposit and receive such waters. Said drainage provisions shall be of such design so as not to endanger the health and safety of any property, either private or public. No natural watercourse shall be filled or restricted until provisions for adequate drainage, designed by the engineer and approved by the City have been installed.

(d)    Building pad grading. The Building Official shall approve the building pad grading at the time of final inspection for drainage of lots as shown on the approved grading plan. The approved grading plan shall be made available to the Building Official at this time.

(e)    Cross drainage requirements.

(1)    There shall be at least one terrace not less than five feet in width constructed in every fill slope greater than thirty feet in height or in cut slopes where the soil structure so requires by report of a soils engineer. The terrace shall be constructed so that surface drainage will be collected in a lined gutter or similar device located at the toe of the slope which terminates in the terrace. Water shall be carried laterally in said terrace to a catch basin or similar structure designed to collect surface drainage, the water to then be carried in a culvert or similar structure designed to take such water to the nearest practical street, storm drain, or natural watercourse;

(2)    Other types of surface protection will be permitted in lieu of terraces when plans and specifications are submitted by the tract engineer or soils engineer, and said protection is approved by the City Engineer. (Ord. 38 Sec. 8, 1965)

6.32.090 Compaction of fills.

The soils engineer shall control the compaction of all fills and shall certify that the complete fill meets the compaction requirements of this chapter. (Ord. 38 Sec. 9, 1965)

6.32.100 Construction of controlled fills.

As supervised by the soils engineer, the following shall be used as a guide for filled areas. For specific projects it may be necessary to make adjustment predicated upon the analysis of the material proposed to be used for the fill and other conditions pertaining to the project, and such adjustments may be made upon written recommendation of the soils engineer:

(1)    General description. The work shall consist of clearing and grubbing, removal of existing structures, preparation of land to be filled, filling of the land, spreading, compaction and control of the fill, structures and all subsidiary work necessary to complete the grading of all filled areas to conform with the lines, grades and slopes as shown on the accepted plans;

(2)    Clearing, grubbing and preparing areas to be filled.

(A)    All timber, logs, trees, brush, objectionable amounts of vegetable matter, and other rubbish shall be removed from the site so as to leave the areas free from all debris,

(B)    The surface shall then be plowed or scarified to a depth of at least six inches, and until the surface is free from ruts, hummocks or other uneven features which would tend to prevent uniform compaction by the equipment to be used,

(C)    Where fills are made on hillsides or adjacent to slopes greater than one vertical to four horizontal, continuous steps or benches shall be cut into firm and fully compacted material before filling is begun,

(D)    After the foundation for the fill has been cleared, plowed or scarified, it shall be disced or bladed until it is uniform and free from large clods; brought to the soil the proper moisture content; and compacted in the same manner and to the same degree as required for the fill material. Said foundation shall be compacted to the full depth of disturbance, and in no case shall the depth be less than six inches;

(3)    Materials. Materials for the fill shall consist of material approved by the soils engineer and may be obtained from the excavation of lands, borrow pits, or any other approved sources. The material used shall be soil free of rocks or lumps of greater dimension than six inches in the top 18 inches and shall not contain paper, wood, glass, tin, metal, cardboard, or any other deleterious substance;

(4)    Placing, spreading and compacting fill material.

(A)    All fills more than one foot in depth shall be compacted to not less than ninety percent of the maximum density as determined by the test method ASTM DIS 57 and ASTM D-1556 and latest revisions, after first clearing, grubbing and preparing the natural ground surface as described above in (2),

(B)    Field density tests shall be made at a frequency determined by the soils engineer, but in no case shall tests be made at a greater interval than two feet of vertical fill. Except for finished grades, which shall be tested to the surface, the test may be taken in the compacted material several inches below the disturbed surface. No additional layers of fill shall be spread until the field density tests indicate that the specified density has been obtained,

(C)    Where loose materials remain on the slope after the final elevation of the slope has been attained, these loose materials shall either be removed or be compacted to 83 percent, as determined by the test method listed in (4) (A), to a depth nine inches below the surface of the slope;

(5)    Supervision. Sufficient time shall be spent by the soils engineer on the site each day that fills are placed or other pertinent work is accomplished to permit the soils engineer to certify to the proper compaction of all fills and to the adherence with all other requirements of the ordinance for which he certified;

(6)    Seasonal limits. No fill material shall be placed, spread or rolled during unfavorable weather conditions. When work is interrupted by heavy rain, fill operations shall not be resumed until field tests by the soil engineer indicate that the moisture content and density of the fill are satisfactory for resumption of the filling operation. (Ord. 38 Sec. 10, 1965)

6.32.110 Relationship of buildings to cut and fill slopes.

(a)    Buildings or structures shall be located clear of the toe or top of cut or fill slopes according to the following:

(1)    A minimum of five feet provided the slope does not exceed ten feet in height;

(2)    One-half the vertical height of slope for slopes between ten feet and twenty feet in height with a maximum of ten feet.

(b)    Conforming slopes twenty feet or more in vertical height shall be provided with a designed retaining wall four feet in height above their toe for that portion of the slope paralleling any buildings with a distance of less than thirty feet between the building and toe of slope.

(c)    The provisions of paragraphs (a) and (b) may be waived upon acceptance by the city engineer of a report by the soils engineer stating that the distance specified can be safely reduced without endangering health, safety or property. (Ord. 38 Sec. 11, 1965)

6.32.120 Responsibility of permittee.

Buildings and grading permits shall be presumed to incorporate the proviso that the applicant, his agent, employees, or contractors shall carry out the proposed work in accordance with the approved plans and with all requirements of this chapter and any other laws or regulations applicable thereto, whether specified or not. No approval shall relieve or exonerate any person from the responsibility of complying with the provisions and intent of this chapter. (Ord. 38 Sec. 12, 1965)

6.32.130 Condition.

In granting a grading permit, the city engineer shall impose such conditions thereon as are reasonably necessary to prevent the proposed operations from being conducted in such a manner as to constitute or create a nuisance or hazard to life or property. Such conditions shall include:

(1)    Designation of a reasonable time limit for the commencement and completion of grading work;

(2)    Limitations upon the hours of the day, days of the week and seasons of the year for conducting grading operations;

(3)    The designation of routes on city streets along which dirt, earth, sand, gravel or similar materials shall be transported when the permit is for more than five hundred cubic yards;

(4)    Restrictions as to size and type of equipment to be used for hauling material on an improved city street for permits of more than five hundred cubic yards;

(5)    Provision for controlling dust and flying dirt by use of water and other means. (Ord. 38 Sec. 13, 1965)

6.32.140 Filing—Renewal fees.

Every application for a permit for an excavation or fill shall be accompanied by a filing fee determined as follows:

Filing fee


1,000 cubic yards or less


1,001 cubic yards or more

$15.00 plus $1.00 for each additional 1,000 cubic yards or fraction thereof.

Renewal fee


1,000 cubic yards or less


1,001 cubic yards or more

$7.50 plus $.50 for each additional 1,000 cubic yards or fraction thereof.

(Ord. 38 Sec. 14, 1965)

6.32.150 Posting.

Every permit issued pursuant to this chapter shall be kept in a conspicuous place on the property for which issued during the entire period that the work of grading, excavating of filling is being done. (Ord. 38 Sec. 1, 1965)

6.32.160 Inspections on excavations and fills.

Inspections on excavations and fills will be performed by the soils engineer. (Ord. 38 Sec. 16, 1965)

6.32.170 Existing excavations and fills.

Whenever the city engineer determines by inspection that any existing excavation or fill from any cause has become a menace to life or limb, or endangers property, blocks or restricts a natural watercourse or affects the safety, usability or stability of a public way, the owner of the property upon which such excavation or fill is located, or other person or agent in control of the property, upon receipt of notice in writing from the city engineer so to do, shall within ninety days from the date of such written notice, repair or reconstruct such excavation or fill so that it will conform to the requirements set forth in Sections 6.32.080 and 6.32.090, or otherwise repair, reconstruct, strengthen or eliminate such excavation or fill in a manner satisfactory to the city engineer, so that it will no longer constitute a menace or danger as aforesaid. A shorter period of time may be specified if an imminent land immediate hazard is found to exist. Service of notice shall be by personal service upon the owner, as shown by the last equalized assessment roll, if he is found within the territorial limits of the city. If he is not so found, service may be made upon the owner by registered mail, postage prepaid, at his address as shown in the last equalized assessment roll, or by personal service on the person occupying or controlling the structure, if any. The owner person in control of the structure may, within fifteen days from service of such notice, appeal to the city council.

If the owner or person in charge or control fails, neglects or refuses to comply with the notice to repair or reconstruct, the city engineer may cause the unsafe fill or excavation to be repaired, reconstructed or filled to eliminate any unsafe conditions either by the use of the city employees or by contract with third persons. Costs incurred by the city as a result of the use of city employees and equipment or by contract with third persons shall constitute a special assessment on the real property on which the unsafe condition existed. The city engineer shall submit an itemized report of costs to the city council. The city council shall cause a copy of the report, together with notice of the date and time of hearing protests to be served on the property owner or person in charge and control of the property in the same manner as provided in the original notice to correct. The city council shall either approve, disapprove or modify the report of costs. The amount finally approved shall be a lien upon the real property and the city council shall adopt a resolution assessing the amount as a lien upon the respective parcels as shown on the last equalized assessment roll. Assessments shall be collectable in the same manner as general taxes and subject to the same penalties and forfeitures, or may be enforced by a separate action at law. (Ord. 38 17, 1965)

6.32.180 Dust.

The permittee shall provide such dust laying equipment and methods as may be required to protect adjacent property from annoyance or damage from dust caused by his operations. (Ord. 38 18, 1965)

6.32.190 Approval of work by city.

(a)    The city engineer will review the soils engineer’s final report, and upon evidence that all requirements of this chapter have been satisfactorily complied with, shall so notify the building division and issue a letter to the permittee.

(b)    The engineer shall certify to the city that the grading has been accomplished in accordance with the finished grading plan or any deviations therefrom.

(c)    The engineer shall submit a final grading map showing thereon location or controlled compacted filled ground, original and final contour lines or finished grade elevations and location of all drainage structures. (Ord. 38 19, 1965)

6.32.200 Installation—Maintenance of protective devices.

All graded and compacted slopes over four feet in height with slopes between one and one-half horizontal to one vertical to four horizontal to one vertical shall be planted prior to final inspection with plants and methods of planting approved by the Building Official. These plants must be maintained and watered in such a manner as to show definite signs of growth at the time of final inspection.

The owner of any property on which an excavation or fill has been made pursuant to the provisions of this chapter, or any other person or agent in possession or control of such property, shall maintain all slopes, retaining walls, cribbing, drainage structures and other necessary protective devices. (Ord. 38 20, 1965)

6.32.210 Owner not relieved of responsibility.

Compliance with the requirements and conditions of this chapter shall not be construed to relieve the owner of real property of any legal duties, obligations or liabilities incident to the ownership of the property while the work of grading, excavating, or filling is in progress, or after the completion thereof. (Ord. 38 21, 1965)

6.32.220 Cash deposit—Surety bond.

The applicant for a permit pursuant to Section 6.32.050 shall deposit with his application a cash deposit or surety bond in a form satisfactory to the City and sufficient to cover the cost of all matters involving expense to the City arising out of the permit application and its use, such as inspection and the services of the City Engineer, and the amount needed to adequately revegetate a graded site that has been abandoned before revegetation is completed. The amount of such deposit or bond shall be determined by the City Engineer. All costs incurred by the City in connection with the permit and the work covered by such permit shall be charged to and paid by the moving permit grantee. (Ord. 985 Sec. 1, 2015; Ord. 38 22, 1965)

6.32.230 Covering cesspool required when excavation unattended.

Every person who digs or excavates any cesspool, seepage pit, well or similar type of shaft, having a diameter in excess of eight inches and intended upon completion to be covered or otherwise protected in such a manner as will prevent persons from falling into the same, shall, during the digging or excavation thereof and until the same shall have been completely and permanently covered or otherwise protected, keep the excavation securely covered, at all times when the same is unattended, with a cover consisting of at least two thicknesses of three-fourths inch exterior plyboard, or its equivalent in strength, with at least one foot of earth completely covering the same. (Ord. 8 Sec. 2 (County Ord. 421 1), 1964)