Q: What is the definition of “Grading”?
A: Grading is defined by the Monterey County
Grading Ordinance No. 2535 as “Any excavating or filling or combination
Q: Why do I need a grading permit?
A grading permit is required for all but a
limited scope of earth-moving operations so that these problems can be
prevented. Even when a permit is not required, you should still use great
care in grading construction to preserve your own property and to protect
adjoining properties and public roads.
Q: When is a grading permit required?
A: In general, a
grading permit is required when the total disturbance from a site; (volume
of cut and fill soil materials on a site; importation or exportation of
soil materials) equals or exceeds 100 cubic yards. As a rule of thumb,
one cubic yard is equal to 27 cubic feet, which is equivalent to a box
measuring 3 feet on each side. An easy method for estimating 100 cubic
yards is to imagine a typical master bedroom completely filled with soil
A grading permit can also be required under other
circumstances, for example, an over the counter (OTC) grading permit may
be required for the construction of a new private driveway or
private road over 50 feet in length. A permit is also required, where
grading affects a drainage course or creates slope steeper than two to one
or creates a cut slope higher than five feet.
Q: Is staking required for presite
A: Yes, at the time of application for a building
permit, applicants must complete a
Presite Inspection Form and check the box for construction staking. If
construction staking is not completed, provide a date when work is
schedule to be performed.
Q: What type of
project needs to be staked?
A: Site boundaries, corner
locations of the new building footprint, additions to existing buildings,
alterations and remodels, accessory structures, decks, swimming pools,
pool houses, detached garages, barns, stables, private access driveways,
retaining walls, water tanks, and similar projects.
Property and Boundary Markers:
- Each property shall have a minimum of four (4) corner markers (steel
pins driven into the earth) unless otherwise indicating the boundary
property lines of the township approved section plan by licensed surveyor.
Location of Structure Markers:
- A minimum of four (4) wooden stakes driven in ground to be installed
indicating the corners of where the new building, addition to existing
building or any other ancillary structure will be located. They must be
identified by “building type” and “compass orientation” on stake with a
dark marker. E.g. - “House, SW Corner”.
Private Driveway Markers:
- A minimum of two (2) stakes driven into the ground to mark the driveway
entrance and or exit. These stakes must have the word “Driveway” on stake
with a dark marker.
Tree Identification Markers:
- Any and all tree removal outside excavation for construction must be
identified by visible marker and approval given by Monterey County
Q: What is a presite inspection?
A: A presite
inspection is performed by a grading inspector on your property prior to
approval of a building permit. The grading inspector reviews the building
plans, site topography, checks for potential construction hazards, and
determines if an associated grading permit or other ancillary permits are
required. If a grading permit application is also submitted concurrently
with a building permit application, this process is accomplished through
the review of the grading construction plans. Check to see if your
construction work qualifies for a
presite inspection exemption
Q: How are the grading calculations
A: Grading is
broken down into two types: 1) CUT - soil materials that are
removed from an area of land, such as an excavation and 2) FILL -
the soil materials that are added to an area of land, such as the
placement of soil for an embankment or fill slope.
calculations are the result of CUT + FILL as measured in cubic
yards. This means that
when one cubic yard of earth is cut, then that same one cubic yard
is used as fill elsewhere on the property or exported from the site.
Monterey County views this as
two cubic yards of earth movement.
This method is referred to as “double counting”. This form of
measurement takes into consideration the total disturbance of a site
from its existing state.
How do I get a grading permit?
A: In order obtain
a grading permit; the grading permit application form must be completed.
Contact the Permit Center for
application forms and supplemental documents including
grading handouts related to a grading permit. The specific application
required will be determined by the scope of the project. The applicant
will be asked to complete the appropriate applications, submit all
required plans, documents and pay applicable fees and bonds.
In most cases, a grading permit
application requires six (6) sets of grading and drainage plans which
include a site plan in each set. Supplemental information may include two
(2) site specific soils report for habitable structures. Additional
documents may include geological reports. compactions reports, surveys to
establish grades, property lines and location of structure, erosion
control plans, best management practices (BMPs), maps, and diagrams used to
produce your calculations to help prevent any delays in processing your
grading permit application.
Once your grading permit application is
submitted, it will be forwarded to one or more of the
inter-department agencies. These agencies will verify compliance, if
applicable, with the approved planning permit, design approval, and the
various codes and ordinances.
Q: How do I get an over-the-counter
over-the-counter (OTC) permit may be issued under a grading permit number
for a new
private access driveway greater than fifty (50) feet in total length
that requires less than one hundred (100) cubic yards of soil materials.
Three (3) copies of driveway drawings and
details are required for an over-the-counter (OTC) private access driveway
Contact the Permit Center for
application forms and supplemental documents including
grading handouts related to a grading permit.
Q: Can I draw up my own plans or do I need
to hire a professional?
A: Grading plans
can be prepared by professional licensed architects, civil, geotechnical
and structural engineers. Licensed professionals are required to wet stamp
and sign the first page of the grading plans and provide supporting
calculations for their design work. In some cases, designers (no
requirement for state licensing) can prepare regular grading plans.
All grading plans
and specifications shall be prepared and signed by a professional licensed
engineer when the grading is over 5,000 cubic yards or a drainage
structure over five square feet in flow area is required and shall be
designated as "engineered grading." "Grading involving less than 5,000
cubic yards shall be designated "regular grading" unless the applicant
chooses to have the grading performed as engineered grading, or the Chief
Building Official determines that special conditions or unusual hazards
exist, in which case grading shall conform to the requirements for
engineered grading (Grading Ordinance No. 2535, Chapter 16.08.090).
Q: How does my grading permit get issued?
A: When your
grading plans have been approved, you have completed all holds required
for issuance, and paid your
fees, your permit is issued and you are ready to start grading
You will receive
one set of approved drawings, stamped and dated along with an inspection
card. The plans and inspection card should be kept at the job site at all
times. A second set of approved drawings, calculations and inspection
card will be maintained with the Grading Inspection Division.
See the guide to
grading Inspection for information on requesting inspections during
the construction phase of your project.
Q: Will my grading permit expire?
A: Your grading
permit is valid for 180 days from the date of issuance. If you do not
begin construction within 180 days or call for an inspection within this
period, your permit will expire.
Each time you pass an inspection, your
permit is valid for 180 days from the last inspection date.
If your permit has
expired and the period has not exceeded one year, the applicant will need
to renew the grading permit prior to the commencement of work and the fee
is calculated to be one half the amount required for a new grading
permit. If your permit has expired and the period has exceeded one year,
you must re-apply and pay a new full grading permit fee.
Q: When should I call for grading
A: When your
grading permit is issued, you will receive an
inspection permit card. This permit card provides a list of
called-in grading inspections established by the Chief Building
Official to ensure that the grading inspector performs site inspections,
coordination, stage approvals, and the grading construction is in
compliance with the approved grading permit.
These inspections require the
applicants to notify the Grading Inspection Division as various stages of
grading construction are completed, and require the grading inspector to
be present on-site at various stages to inspect and approve portions of
the grading construction.
The initial inspection usually held on site prior to any brushing and
preparatory to actual grading construction, is generally referred to as
The meeting provides an open forum for
the discussion of the contractor’s approved methods of construction;
discussion of any special problems such as stabilization of fills, brush,
tree and rock removal and disposals methods, erosion control for rainy
season protection and discussion concerning the conditions of the permits
and the necessary paper work required during in progress and final
By participants developing strong
communication and an understanding of the conditions, requirements, and
specifications of the approved grading plan and permit during the meeting,
anticipated problems are resolved through careful planning for safe
In-Progress Grading Inspections
The in-progress grading include toe of fill key inspection, excavation
inspections, compacted fill inspections, drainage devise inspections and
driveway/private road inspections.
In–progress grading inspections should
continue during construction to ensure compliance with the grading permit
and the grading ordinance. These inspections also help the operation
maintain steady progress, and minimize holdups, stop work or expiration of
the grading permit.
Much of the in-progress grading
inspection is involved with making sure that the soil engineer’s
representative is on the site observing grading construction, ensuring
compliance with the soils engineer report recommendations, and that the
grading contractor is complying with the specifications and requirements
of the approved plans and permit.
The grading inspector keeps
communication open and coordinates work among the contractor, soil
engineer representative, and engineering geologist, to assure that each
stage of grading construction is properly inspected, tested, and approved
by the geotechnical consultants.
Q: How do I schedule a grading inspection?
A: You can schedule a grading inspection
Salinas Permit Call Center at least 24 hours before the work day of
the inspection. Have your permit number (from the back of your permit
card) and the inspection type or code listed on the permit card ready when
you call. Telephone Number: (831) 755-5027.
Q: What happens if I am not (or my
representative is not) at the site when the grading inspector arrives for
a scheduled inspection?
A: If the grading inspector arrives at
the building site for a scheduled inspection and you or a representative
are not present, a re-inspection fee must be paid and the inspection will
need to be rescheduled.
Q: What do I do if I have changes to my
plans during construction?
A: Please let us know as soon as you
decide to make a change in your grading construction. Depending on how
much you want to change, you may need to submit a change detail or plan
revision, or you may need a new grading permit. By discussing this with us
early on, we can tell you what is needed, and you can probably avoid a
delay or stop work on your project.
Q: How do I pass a “final inspection”?
A: At this stage all grading
construction has been completed, but there has been no release of
utilities or issuance of the certificate of occupancy.
For final approval of your grading
permit, you must pass the final grading inspection. This inspection takes
place when all building site fine grading work has been completed,
including; excavation and fills placement, drainage devices and disposal
systems, erosion control and landscape of slopes.
All professional reports including
in-grading field reports, soil compaction test reports, an as-graded plan,
and a final graded letter that summarizes all grading construction for the
site must be reviewed and approved by the engineer of record or the soils
If there are any hold or correction
notes on the permit or grading plans, the grading inspector will need
proof that the applicant has taken care of the holds before the permit
can be final sign-off.
Why do I have to put up a grading bond?
A: A grading bond is defined by The
County’s Grading Ordinance No. 2535, Section 16.08.290 which states, “The
Chief Building Official shall require bonds in such form and amounts as may be
deemed necessary to assure that the work, if not completed in accordance
with the approved plans and specifications will be corrected to eliminate
Q: What type of grading bonds is accepted?
A: Monterey County accepts the following as meeting the intent of Section 16.08.290:
payments are not accepted for bond deposits.
Q: How is the amount of the bond
A: The following
calculations are used to determine grading bond amounts. The Chief
Building Official, may at times, adopt another calculation table to assess
fees depending upon construction estimates and specific site conditions.
Amount (Cut or Fill)
Grading Bond Fees
500 cubic yards or less
501 to 1,500 cubic yards
1,501 or more cubic yards
$2,000.00 for the first 1,500 cuyds
plus $1.00 for every cubic yard over 1,500 cuyds
Q: When will my bond be released?
A: When the
grading construction is completed and has been final approved and signed
off. The grading inspector will give the approval for release, and the
owner, owners, or corporation listed on the bond will then be notified.
Approximately four weeks are required to process the owner's claim for
refund after the work is completed.
Q: Can I get temporary occupancy without
having my grading permit final?
A: Temporary Occupancy may be granted
prior to final grading inspection under certain conditions and
extraordinary circumstances. The Applicant will be required to complete a
Temporary Occupancy Request Form. A bond in the amount of $5,000 will
be required unless the Chief Building Official has first approved a lesser
amount. Contact your grading inspector for additional information.
Q: How can I contact a specific
Click here for a
list of phone numbers and email addresses for the grading staff.
Q: What is Ridgeline Development?
A: “Ridgeline Development” is defined by Monterey County
Zoning ordinance – Title 21, Section 21.06.950 as “Ridgeline development
means development on the crest of a hill which has the potential to create
a silhouette or other substantially adverse impact when viewed from a
common public viewing area”.