Definition of Grading
Grading is defined by the Monterey County Grading Ordinance No.
2535 as “Any excavating or filling or combination thereof.”
Grading Permit Requirements
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 materials.
development on natural or man-made slopes of 30% or more (25% in North
County areas) is limited and requires discretionary planning approval,
which may involve land use permit reviews prior to grading permit
consideration. Check with your assigned planner for more information.
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 - soil
materials that are added to an area of land, such as the placement of soil
for an embankment or fill slope.
For the purpose of identification and classification, soil materials are
any material identified by the
soils classification system adopted by the American Society for
Testing and Materials.
calculations are the result of CUT + FILL as measured in cubic yards.
This means that when 1 cubic yard of earth is cut, that same 1 cubic
yard is used as fill elsewhere on the property or exported from the
views this as 2 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.
View "Grading Construction for Single Family Dwelling" handout.
Grading Permit Application
In order to obtain a grading permit; the grading permit application form must
be completed. Contact the Permit Centers for
application forms and
supplemental documents, including
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.
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.
your grading permit application is submitted, it will be forwarded to one
or more of the
These agencies will verify compliance, if applicable, with the approved
planning permit, design approval, and the various codes and ordinances.
Preparation of Grading Plans
Grading plans can be prepared by professional licensed architects, civil,
geotechnical, and structural engineers. Licensed professional 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.
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).
Building Codes and Local Ordinances
In California, building construction is regulated by the State of
California Building Standards Commission. The most recent codes became
effective November 1, 2002. These codes are revised approximately every 3
years. They are the Uniform Building Code (Appendix 33 – Excavation &
Grading), Uniform Plumbing Code, Uniform Mechanical Code, and National
Electric Code, as amended in the California Codes.
laws are governed by the Monterey County General Plan, Local Coastal
Program, Land Use Plan, Coastal Implementation Plans, Area plans and
Zoning Ordinances [Title 20 (Coastal) and Title 21 (Non-Coastal)], Grading
Ordinance No. 2535 (Title 16), Erosion Control Ordinance No. 2806 (Title
16), and the Monterey County Code.
Grading Permit Holds
As a grading permit application is processed, we often identify items that
must be completed before the applicant permit can be issued (e.g., a copy
of the current deed if the property has changed hands recently), before
you start work (e.g., a final soils report), or before we can final your
project (e.g., encroachment approval by the Public Works Department).
These items are called holds. We record them in our computer tracking
system and we give you a list of them. Please remember that they must be
completed before your application or permit can issue. Contact the Permit
Center for any questions on a permit hold.
Grading Permit Issuance
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
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
Grading Inspection for
information on requesting inspections during the construction phase of
Grading Permit Validity
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.
time you pass an inspection, your permit is valid for 180 days from the
last inspection date.
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.
In most cases, you
can avoid having your grading permit becoming in active or expired.
If your grading permit is nearing a time deadline, and you are not
ready for an inspection, please contact a grading inspector. The
inspector can verify that work is in progress and may grant an
additional 180 days to your permit inspection record.
In most cases, grading construction projects require
professional inspections, grading in-progress reports, soil compaction
(fill placement), testing, and a final grading report from a professional
licensed engineer verifying that the grading construction was done
correctly. To do this, the engineer must visit the site and inspect
certain grading operations and perform soils tests. Therefore, you need to
engage a consultant engineer before you start grading construction. Be
sure the engineer knows that the final grading report for the grading
construction must verify all of the following:
That the grading construction was done
according to the approved plans, including the location and extent of
grading, and the finish slopes of cuts and fills.
That area where fill is placed has been
properly prepared (vegetation removed, keying and benching where
The fill has achieved at least 90%
relative compaction throughout its depth.
Where a building pad is created, the pad
is "suitable for its intended use" (i.e., to support a residential
structure). This is particularly important when the building is partly
on cut and partly on fill. The owner or contractor will need to submit
a pad certification letter to the building inspector before you can
pour your foundation.
County grading inspectors will inspect the grading construction on called
inspections and they will
request copies of the engineer’s professional reports, letters, tests, and
recommendations; insures work follows the approved grading plans, building
codes and local ordinances, and assure a safe site development for public
Grading Construction During The "Winter Season"
The Erosion Control Ordinance No. 2806, Chapter 16.12, defines October 15
to April 15 as the winter season. Grading construction during this time is
particularly vulnerable to the weather and can lead to accelerated erosion
conditions. Therefore, to grade during that time, you are required to
install adequate erosion protective measures (BMPs) to minimize damage to
Chief Building Official may stop grading during periods of inclement weather
where weather-generated problems are not being controlled adequately
(Grading Ordinance. 2535 111(j), 1979.)
For More Information
For information on grading permit processing contact the Salinas Permit
Center at (831) 755-5027. Questions on required inspections for grading
construction projects refer to the section on
Grading Inspections and/or contact a