Chapter 16.42


16.42.010    Permits required – Exceptions.

16.42.020    Prohibited permits.

16.42.030    Responsibility.

16.42.040    Types of grading permits.

16.42.010 Permits required – Exceptions.

No person shall conduct any grading, excavation, earth moving, filling, clearing, brushing, or grubbing on natural or existing grade, or perform work that is preparatory to grading, without first having obtained a valid grading permit, stockpile permit, or administrative clearing permit in accordance with this division, except for the following:

A. An excavation below finished grade for recompaction within the building zone (within five feet of footings) or for basements and footings for a building, mobile home, retaining wall, septic system, well, or structure authorized by a valid building permit. This shall not exempt any fill made with the material from such excavation or exempt any excavation having an unsupported height greater than two feet after the completion of such structure. This shall not prohibit a minimum-fee grading permit or soils or geologic report from being required for foundation design and inspection purposes when, in the opinion of the City Engineer, stability considerations warrant such inspection;

B. Cemetery graves;

C. Refuse disposal sites controlled by other regulations or agencies;

D. Earthwork or construction controlled by the Federal, State, County, or City governments, or by a local agency as defined by Government Code Sections 53090 through 53095 (special districts) including the Poway Redevelopment Agency or pipeline or conduit excavation and backfill conducted by local agencies. This exemption, however, shall apply only when the earthwork construction takes place on the property or dedicated rights-of-way or easements of the above agencies;

E. Excavation and backfill for installation of underground utilities by public utilities or companies operating under the authority of a franchise or public property right-of-way permit;

F. Mining, quarrying, excavating, processing, stockpiling of rock, sand, gravel, aggregate or clay for commercial purposes, where established and provided for by a valid conditional use permit, provided such operations do not affect the lateral support or increase the stresses in or pressures upon any adjacent or contiguous property, or alter the orientation of or contribute excessive sedimentation to natural watercourses which may result in adverse changes on adjoining property;

G. Exploratory excavations under the direction of civil engineers, soils engineers, engineering geologists, and/or archaeologists or paleontologists, or pursuant to a well permit, provided all excavations are properly backfilled or otherwise restored. When such work involves removal of any native vegetation, it must be accompanied by an administrative clearing permit. Any access roadways or pads constructed for this work shall only be constructed as approved in the administrative clearing permit and shall be restored as required in the permit;

H. An excavation less than two feet in vertical depth which does not create a cut slope greater than two feet in vertical height and steeper than two horizontal to one vertical (2:1) which does not exceed 50 cubic yards on any one site and does not adversely affect the stability of any existing slopes or alter drainage conditions;

I. A fill less than two feet in depth, placed on natural grade with a slope flatter than five horizontal to one vertical (5:1), which does not exceed 50 cubic yards on any one lot and does not obstruct a drainage course;

J. Excavation or fill on a developed parcel of land that is done for the purposes of minor landscaping improvements or recreational purposes and which:

1. Is a minimum of 10 feet away from any structures and three feet from any property line, unless entirely contained by a retaining wall;

2. Does not exceed 250 cubic yards of total excavation and fill;

3. Does not exceed three vertical feet in depth;

4. Does not create a cut or fill slope greater than five feet in height nor a slope steeper than three horizontal to one vertical (3:1);

5. Does not divert, concentrate or otherwise alter surface or subsurface drainage as it leaves or enters adjacent properties;

6. Is not undertaken within any open space, utility, access or other easement; and

7. Is not in an area where any structure is planned, including patios, swimming pools and accessory structures;

K. Clearing and brushing when directed by the Fire Chief to mitigate a potential fire hazard in accordance with Chapter 8.76 PMC, with the concurrence of the Director of Development Services that such clearing and brushing will not cause significant damage to any rare, endangered or protected species of plant or wildlife, or cause any significant damage to any habitat of any rare, endangered or protected species of wildlife, or endanger any archaeological or historical resources, open space areas with biological significance, or transition areas between land to be cleared for fire-fuel mitigation and permanent open space;

L. Clearing and brushing, expressly for the following purposes, with the concurrence of the Director of Public Works:

1. Routine landscaping and maintenance of already landscaped areas, and the removal of dead or diseased trees or shrubs;

2. Clearing which conforms to the location, extent and purpose authorized explicitly by a construction permit pursuant to a discretionary land use permit or a discretionary development permit. An administrative permit shall be required for any purpose which is not specifically addressed by the construction permit;

3. Clearing of sites of 10,000 square feet or less which are not part of a larger parcel owned by the same person, persons or entity;

4. Clearing for agricultural purposes on land which has been legitimately used for agricultural purposes within five years immediately prior to institution of the clearing operation. This exemption shall not apply to those portions of any property which contain natural vegetation which has been in existence for more than five years. The owner shall supply written proof or other evidence satisfactory to the Director of Development Services that the property has previously been used for agricultural purposes within the past five years prior to commencement of clearing;

M. Paving over an exposed ground surface less than 5,000 square feet in size and the subgrade preparation necessary for that work, provided no grading beyond the limits of other exemptions is performed;

N. Minor maintenance and alterations to natural drainage areas that do not:

1. Obstruct drainage from adjacent properties;

2. Divert the outflow of drainage from the natural discharge point of the property;

3. Unduly concentrate or accelerate the flow of drainage as it leaves the property;

4. Create ponding, siltation or erosion in or of the streambed; nor

5. Disturb wetlands.

Note: The above-listed exemptions do not apply to clearing, grubbing, brushing or grading when:

a. Work will occur in, or physically impact, designated or dedicated open space or environmentally sensitive areas designated in the general plan or shown on any approved specific plan;

b. Work will occur in any waterway or wetland, stream, river, channel, pond, lake, marsh, bog, lagoon, vernal pool, or riparian habitat, except as provided in subsection N of this section;

c. Work will occur in any floodway or floodplain as shown on the Federal Emergency Management Agency Floodplain Maps, or on City revised maps, except as provided in subsection N of this section. (Ord. 705 § 2, 2010; Ord. 655 § 3, 2007; Ord. 518, 1999; Ord. 345, 1991)

16.42.020 Prohibited permits.

No person shall grade upon nor shall any permit be issued for grading upon a significant portion of natural or existing grade which exceeds a slope of 45 percent unless such grading is required to mitigate a geologic hazard to adjacent grade, or is required for the construction of necessary water or sewer mains, storm drains, or fire roads, all as approved and determined necessary by the City Engineer. (Ord. 345, 1991)

16.42.030 Responsibility.

Except as exempted above, no person shall do any clearing, brushing, grubbing or grading, nor shall an owner allow any of these activities on his property unless the person or owner has a valid permit of the type described in PMC 16.42.040, issued by the City Engineer authorizing such activities. An owner is presumed to have allowed grading which has been done on property occupied by him or is under his dominion and control. This is a presumption affecting the burden of producing evidence. A separate permit shall be required for each site. A grading permit may authorize both excavations and fills. (Ord. 345, 1991)

16.42.040 Types of grading permits.

A. A permit for rough or precise grading may be issued for grading work, as defined in this chapter, upon completion of a proper application, submittal of other required data, and review and approval of grading plans by the City Engineer.

B. Stockpile Permit. A stockpile permit may be issued for the temporary stockpiling of materials, provided the materials shall be removed from the stockpile site, or compacted and worked thereon under a subsequently issued rough or precise grading permit within two weeks, or a timeframe specified by the City Engineer, of the issuance of the stockpile permit; and, provided further, that the stockpile material is graded and placed such that unreasonable erosion will not occur. Erosion control plans are required for every submittal of a stockpile permit application. Erosion control devices designed by the engineer of work shall be installed promptly at the commencement of stockpiling. A stockpile permit and a stockpile plan prepared by a civil engineer along with an engineer’s cost estimate, minimum administrative and inspection fees, and a cash deposit shall be required by the City Engineer to ensure proper erosion control and cleanup and removal of stockpile.

In no case shall a stockpile permit application be accepted by the City prior to City Council or written staff approval of a project on the site, including environmental review by the Development Services Department, and submittal of a complete grading application including plans, soils report, engineer’s cost estimate, fees and application.

C. Administrative Clearing Permit. No person shall commence any clearing and grubbing operation without first receiving a grading, stockpiling or an administrative clearing permit from the City Engineer. An administrative clearing permit shall not be issued until all of the following have occurred to the satisfaction of the City Engineer after review by the Director of Development Services:

1. For development-related clearing, where the proposed clearing and grubbing is in anticipation of, or pursuant to, development of the affected property, the following shall be accomplished:

a. All applicable discretionary approvals for development of the land shall have been issued;

b. All required environmental mitigation measures shall have been implemented;

c. All applicable fees and deposits shall have been paid;

d. A satisfactory clearing plan shall have been approved; and

e. An erosion control plan shall have been approved and cash security posted to assure implementation.

Any clearing done pursuant to this section shall conform to the location, extent and purpose authorized explicitly by the applicable approvals for development of land.

2. For nondevelopment clearing, in all other instances where development is not anticipated, the following shall be accomplished:

a. A satisfactory clearing plan showing the location of existing natural vegetation, locations of all existing buildings or structures on the property and the specific area to be cleared shall have been approved;

b. Photographs of the site and surrounding properties which clearly indicate existing conditions and vegetation shall have been submitted;

c. A biological report or other documentation which indicates the quantity and quality of existing vegetation as potentially suitable habitat for sensitive species, and any potential impacts on the suitability of remaining habitat on site and adjacent properties shall be submitted and approved by the Director of Development Services (on disturbed sites, this report may be required to recommend revegetation with native plants);

d. All required environmental mitigation measures shall have been implemented;

e. An erosion control plan shall have been approved and cash security posted to assure implementation; and

f. An archaeological resources report which indicates the location of sensitive resources, as determined by a qualified archaeologist or paleontologist, shall have been submitted and approved. (Ord. 705 § 2, 2010; Ord. 655 § 3, 2007; Ord. 518, 1999; Ord. 345, 1991)