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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Rebuilding after the Thomas Fire and the Montecito Flood
The County has outlined the initial steps for rebuilding in the Montecito 1/9 Debris Flow areas. Property owners are advised to meet with their case managers now, and to hold off making any significant expenditures on design plans so their decisions and permit applications can be informed by critical survey work, engineering and mapping work studies that will take a minimum of three months.
Santa Barbara County is doing everything it can to make sure rebuilding can happen as quickly as possible, but the debris flow created unique challenges.
Because the debris flow dislodged many survey markers and other landmarks, making it impossible to identify property lines without a licensed surveyor, the County will work with outside surveyors to reestablish survey markers along public rights-of-way.
Creek channels and land elevations have changed throughout the debris flow area, which means existing FEMA maps are no longer accurate. County staff is working with FEMA on interim flood hazard/recovery mapping analyses to assess where water and debris will flow in the future.
Land surveys, engineering studies and interim flood hazard/recovery mapping should be completed by mid-June.
The County advises property owners to delay making any significant expenditures on design plans so their decisions and permit applications can be informed by this work. The survey, engineering, and mapping work that the County is doing throughout the debris flow area will significantly reduce the costs that individual homeowners would incur if they were to take on these tasks on their own.
For those property owners who choose not to wait, the County recommends meeting with your Planning and Development case manager and Flood Control staff upfront to determine the submittal requirements to facilitate the permit review process.
The requirements for each property will be different, but they may include:
- Current topographic survey of project site
- Property line survey
- Hydrologic analyses of the project site to reflect post-burn (Thomas) conditions. Analysis should utilize and build upon the information in two technical reports: the
Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) Team report and the
Watershed Emergency Response Team (WERT) report, which also includes the work of the SoCal Watershed Task Force.
- Calculation of the current base flood elevations, inundation limits and possibly the floodway
- Key design elements include channel geomorphology, foundation considerations, and hydraulic capacity.
- Preparation of plans may require utilization of professionals with expertise in geotechnical, civil and hydraulic engineering, soil erosion, hydrology, and engineering geology.
Yes. The County has assigned case managers to every impacted property. If you are a property owner, you are encouraged to contact your case manager now. Your case manager can help you understand both the process and challenges to recovery that are unique to your individual property. If you don't know who your case manager is, call (805) 568-2090.
Property Owners are strongly encouraged to contact a qualified professional to carefully remove the mud from in and around their home. Once the mud is removed, owners should contact Building and Safety staff at (805)568-3030 to discuss next steps to repair and/or restore their home.
A red placard posted by Building and Safety staff signifies that the structure is unsafe to occupy. Do not occupy the structure unless the Building and Safety Division has reassessed the property and determined that the red placard no longer applies. Please contact Building and Safety staff at (805)568-3030 to schedule a reassessment of your property.
If the structure has sustained structural damage, the evaluation must be made by a licensed architect or engineer. Plans for such repair must also be prepared by a licensed architect or engineer.
Yes. Reconstruction of any part of the home that has sustained severe damage will need to comply with the current California Building Codes.
Yes. Reconstruction of your home will need to comply with the current California Building Codes.
Submittal requirements may vary depending on each home's unique situation. Please contact Building and Safety staff at (805)568-3030 to assess your submittal requirements.
Submittal requirements may vary depending on each home's unique situation. A soils report may be required depending on the condition of the existing foundation. Home owners are encouraged to contact Building and Safety staff at (805)568-3030 to discuss the specific needs related to their rebuilding efforts.
Each home's situation is unique and the approval process may vary depending on each property's situation. Home owners are encouraged to contact Building and Safety staff at (805)568-3030 to discuss the specific review requirements related to their rebuilding efforts.
Please contact Building and Safety staff at (805)568-3030. Staff will arrange to meet with you at your property and reassess the home's structural integrity and provide you with an assessment regarding the scope of required repairs and any necessary next steps.
Please contact Building and Safety staff at (805)568-3030. Staff will arrange to meet with you at your property and reassess the home's structural integrity and provide you with an assessment regarding the scope of any required repairs and any necessary next steps. If no repairs are necessary, we will coordinate with Edison and So Cal Gas to reinstate your services.
Fences of six feet or less do not require either a planning or a building permit. Chain link fences up to eight feet are also exempt.
Yes. A grading permit is required whenever any of the following occurs as a result of proposed grading: (1) The transported amount of materials exceeds 50 cubic yards; (2) the proposed grading causes a cut or fill to exceed three feet in vertical distance to the natural contour of the land; or (3) the proposed grading causes any changes in elevation to the natural contour within the watercourse/drainage setback.
Each property's situation is unique and the rebuilding process will differ for each property owner depending on the circumstances. Please contact your assigned case manager to work through these issues. He/she will be able to help guide your rebuilding options. If you do not know who your case manager is, please contact our Zoning Counter at (805)568-2090 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.