Recover and Rebuild FAQ

Technical FAQs

Geotechnical (Soils) and Geologic Reports

A:

Yes. New residences will require a geotechnical report prepared by a licensed Civil Engineer per California Building Code (CBC). Please note: The geotechnical investigation must reflect post debris removal site conditions.

A:

Intense heat can damage and weaken the concrete and steel reinforcement bars in footings, slabs, and footing stem walls rendering them unsafe for reuse. Permit applicants who wish to use the existing foundation system must provide specialized materials testing and a report from a licensed architect, civil or structural engineer certifying the foundation is acceptable for reuse. See information sheet titled “Concrete Slabs and Foundations Damaged by Fire”. Link. Recognize that the vast majority of foundations are not able to be re-used, when weighing whether to perform this testing.

A:

No. An update to your geotechnical report will be accepted if the update a) addresses any changes to site conditions, including disturbed soils created by removal of foundations and debris removal b) is prepared by the same engineer that prepared the original report or a new engineer that submits a transfer of responsibility form, and c) includes recommendations to meet current California Building Code.

A:

Each rebuild building permit application must include a pre-application Permanent Geologic Hazard Clearance. Visit the Pre-Application Clearance Process page for more information. The clearance process will determine whether detailed geologic assessment or a full geologic investigation will be required.

A:

Possibly. The project engineer will provide an assessment of the existing bridge foundations, and whether retrofitting is required to support the intended loading. The engineer should also provide observations on protection and/or susceptibility of foundation from erosion, scour, etc. If foundation retrofit is needed then a geotechnical report is required. Emergency bridge permits can be granted at the discretion of the Building Official. Emergency work requires special inspections.

 

Environmental FAQs

Riparian Corridors

A:

Yes. Your replacement home may be constructed on the same footprint as the original house, provided the home was legally constructed before the Riparian Corridor regulations went into effect in 1977 or was constructed with a Riparian Exception permit. However, you are encouraged to locate your replacement home further away from the river or stream if feasible. Only a building permit is required as long as the replacement home is not larger than the original house.

A:

Riparian corridors are protected by County, State and Federal agency ordinances. The County has prepared a Master Riparian Exception Permit that will simplify this for you. Please ask the RPC team if you can sign on to that general permit.

Biotic Resources and Trees

A:

You can find out if your parcel is located in a biotic resource area subject to the County Sensitive Habitat Ordinance by checking the County GIS site and entering your parcel number in the field in the upper left corner of the screen. Click on the “Tables” tab at the bottom of the screen to see your parcel information. Select the “Biotic and Water Resources” tab, and look in the “Biotic Resources” field – this will say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Be sure to scroll down to check the Sandhill Habitat tab – this will either say ‘Sandhill Habitat’ or ‘n/a- not applicable’.

A:

No biotic approval is required as long as you are reconstructing the destroyed structure in substantially the same location. If the proposal includes relocation or significant expansion of the structure the project will be subject to normal Sensitive Habitat regulations according to the Sensitive Habitat Ordinance.

Dangerous trees within biotic resource areas may be removed on an emergency basis, provided the stumps are left in-tact to minimize ground disturbance.

A:

In one rare habitat, known as Sand Hills, disturbance of the sandy soil outside of the footprint of the destroyed house, road and other previously disturbed areas, must be avoided. You may rebuild the home in the same footprint without further mitigation. If the replacement home will be larger than the preexisting home, or located outside of the existing footprint, purchase of mitigation credits from the Zayante Sandhills Conservation Bank will be required. Please note that if you are required to expand your septic leaching system, you will be required to purchase mitigation credits for any expansion area for the new system. The cost of the mitigation credits is $7.00 per square foot of new ground disturbance. We expect this to apply to a very limited number of parcels.

A:

Outside the Coastal Zone: Burned trees that are not located within a biotic resource area (see above) are not protected and may be removed.

In the Coastal Zone: If the following size trees are visible from a scenic road they are considered significant and trees exceeding 40” in diameter, sprout clumps of 5 or more steps (each 20” or greater in diameter) or 10 trees on a parcel (each greater than 20” in diameter) are considered “significant” and are regulated under the County Significant Tree Removal Ordinance. Significant trees may only be removed on an emergency basis with notification via email with photo sent to EnvironmentalPlanningInfo@santacruzcounty.us. In the burn area the scenic roads are portions of Highway 1,9,35 and 235, and various county roads in Bonny Doon.

Archaeology

A:

You can find out if your parcel is located in an archaeological resource area by checking the County GIS site and entering your parcel number in the field in the upper left corner of the screen. Click on the “Tables” tab at the bottom of the screen to see your parcel information. Select the “Land Use” tab, and look in the “Archaeological Resources” field on the bottom left column– this will say ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

A:

Possibly. An archaeological report is required if you are expanding or relocating the home outside the original footprint and you also need a discretionary approval (i.e., Coastal Permit, Variance etc.). An archaeological report will not be required if you are rebuilding the structure within the same footprint, or if you only need a ministerial building permit.

Floodplains

A:

You can find out if your parcel is in a FEMA designated floodplain by checking the County GIS site and entering your parcel number in the field in the upper left corner of the screen. Click on the “Tables” tab at the bottom of the screen to see your parcel information. Select the “Hazards and GeoPhysical” tab, and look in the “Flood Zone” field – this will provide a ‘flood zone number’ or say ‘n/a”- not applicable.

Floodplains

A:

Yes. Houses in the floodplain may be rebuilt, provided they are relocated to an area of the parcel that is outside of the floodplain if one exists. This determination can be made by a Civil Engineer who will calculate the “base flood elevation” for the watercourse. If a buildable location outside the floodplain does not exist, you may rebuild within the floodplain provided that the lowest floor of the house is elevated one foot above the base flood elevation, adequate venting is provided beneath the residence, and flood resistant construction methods are adhered to in the design.