Grading Code Enforcement

The Grading Code Enforcement section of the Grading Inspection Division is responsible for enforcing grading, land use and erosion control in the unincorporated areas of Monterey County.

The Grading Code Enforcement section investigates all complaints of violations of the grading and erosion control ordinances and employs abatement procedures to correct code deficiencies. This section also initiates follow-up enforcement when cases have been referred by other county divisions and referring cases to the County Counsel for litigation action. Assessment fees are collected from building owners that have code violations in order to recover costs incurred by investigations.

The following information is provided as a brief outline to grading violation and abatement procedures.  For more information on code enforcement, visit the Code Enforcement Division.

Grading-Code Violation                   
Seventy-five percent of grading violations are reported to us by the public. Complaints of potential grading violations are accepted through phone calls, walk in, fax or mail and should be directed to the Code Enforcement Office Assistant (CEOA). The information from the complaint will be used to open a Code Enforcement (CE) case. Download Complaint Form

Site Visit and Documentations
A grading inspector conducts a field investigation to determine if a grading violation exists as reported. If a violation exists and the work is in progress (E.g. Site grading over 100 cuyds, without a grading permit), a STOP WORK NOTICE will be posted on site. On the other hand, if the same work is completed without a permit, a NOTICE OF VIOLATION will be posted or mailed to the owner of the property.

Photographs of grading violation and a written field report will be made for review and documentation.

Notice of Violation

A letter is prepared by the CEOA and sent certified and regular mail to the property owner notifying them of the violation and giving them 30 days to comply. The letter will indicate what is needed to clear the violation, i.e. obtaining a grading permit or correcting an existing condition that is creating accelerated erosion. A grading permit and other ancillary fees will be doubled when required to clear violations, to include Land Use Permits where grading has occurred on slopes over 30% or Coastal Development Permit for grading on slopes over 25%.

If the property owner is able to comply within the 30 day period, no enforcement recovery fees will be charged, however, higher permitting fees will still be assessed. If the property owner cannot meet the initial deadline, a compliance agreement can be instituted. The compliance agreement sets a date that will allow additional time if needed to obtain the necessary permits and correct the violation, not to exceed 6 months.

Citation Letter
If there is no progress made towards clearing the violation after 30 days, the CEOA will prepare and send a citation letter. This gives a notice to the property owner they have 10 days to make arrangements to either receive the citation or enter into a compliance agreement that sets a new date for compliance, pay for enforcement costs, and apply for the proper permits. Pendency (type of lien) will be recorded on the property for the violation.

Infraction Citation
If there is still no positive action by the property owner, an infraction citation will be issued. This requires them to appear in municipal court and the case is presented before a judge. If they do not appear, a bench warrant will be issued for their arrest. Fines for citations start at $250, then $500 and $1000 thereafter for each additional citation if there continues to be no positive action by the property owner.

Application for Grading Permit
Six sets of plans are required with all applications for grading permits. Plans shall be drawn to scale and at a minimum include the following; site location, name & address of owner, parcel number, all property lines, contours of existing or pre-existing ground surface and proposed contours, elevations or cross sections, location of any structures, calculations showing cut and fill amounts, and estimated start and finish dates. Additional requirements may be assessed based upon the scope of work.

For more information on grading plans, refer to the following sections:

Grading Plan Check
Grading Forms, Handouts and Ordinances