Construction Activities

Development activity in Santa Barbara County must prevent sediment and other construction related pollutants from entering the storm drain. The County regulates discharges from construction activities through permits issued by Planning & Development Department. These include Grading Permits and Land Use Permits.

Grading Permits Chapter 14 of the County Code addresses construction site runoff control and associated inspection and enforcement procedures. The Grading Code is admininistered under the Building and Safety Division of Planning and Development.

Under the Grading Code, a ministerial permit is required when 50 cubic yards or more are graded.

The permit requires submittal of an Erosion and Sediment Control Plan (Section 14-29), or in the case where a project is also subject to General Permit for Discharges of Storm Water Associated with Construction Activity ( Construction General Permit , 99-08-DWQ), a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan or SWPPP can be submitted instead.

The Erosion and Sediment Control Plan (or SWPPP) addresses pollution prevention through the use of Best Management Practices to control erosion and non-storm water discharges such as fueling, sawcutting, placing concrete, painting, etc. BMPs appropriate for the Erosion and Sediment Control Plan (or SWPPP) can be selected from the resources listed below.

The requirements of an Erosion and Sediment Control Plan (Chapter 14-29) include:

  1. A delineation and brief description of the proposed practices to retain sediment on the site, including sediment basins and silt traps, and a schedule for their maintenance;
  2. The location and a brief description of the surface runoff and erosion control practices to be implemented, including types and methods of applying mulches, hydro seeding, or other slope stabilization methods; construction material and waste management practices to be used, including temporary borrow and waste disposal areas, temporary debris and garbage disposal, and chemical/fuel  storage areas.
  3. A brief description of the vegetative practices to be used, including types of seeds and the fertilizer and their application rates, dates of seeding and a schedule for maintenance and upkeep, including irrigation.
  4. A brief description of reasonable precautionary measures to ensure that vehicles do not track or spill earth materials into public streets and actions necessary to remove such materials if the materials are spilled or tracked.
  5. Drainage or erosion and sediment control plans shall include Best Management Practices for control of pollutants from onsite storm water discharges and non-storm water discharges, such as, the washout of excess construction materials, including but not limited to drywall, grout, gypsum, plaster, mortar and concrete. Water contaminated with wash-out pollutants shall be collected and controlled and shall be removed from the site.

Sites are inspected regularly to assure the BMPs in place are preventing pollutants from leaving the site (Section 14-18).  Failure to implement BMPs may result in a Stop Work Order and is punishable as an infraction or misdemeanor (Section 14-33) or as civil penalty (14-34). County accepted BMPs are linked below.

Land Use Permits

The County's discretionary permit review process provides additional authority for regulating discharges associated with construction activity. Project conditions including monitoring and enforcement are provided through the County Zoning Ordinance and implementation of Comprehensive Plan policy. These apply in cases where the Grading Permit may not apply, for example redevelopment projects where land disturbance is less than 50 cubic yards.

The County's Comprehensive Plan provides policies to minimize grading and erosion during construction, limit grading on steep slopes, encourage good site design, require special provisions for disposal of construction wastes, provide development setback or buffers from creeks and streams, and to protect and restore sensitive habitats.

These implementation guidelines are presented in Appendix E & F of the SWMP.

Resources for Construction Best Management Practices

The following resources are accepted by the County for the proper design and installation of project-appropriate BMPs:

In April 2008, the County completed an evaluation of the construction program in compliance with the Storm Water Management Program.  Two workshops were held to discuss the findings and recommendations. Please forward any comments on this draft evaluation to Cathleen Garnand.

Guidelines for Sustainable Landscapes

The Sustainable Sites Initiative is an effort to develop standards and guidelines for site development that will reduce the environmental impact of landscapes. Sustainable Sites standards and guidelines can apply to sites with or without buildings and can be used by those who design, construct, operate and maintain landscapes, including planners, landscape architects, engineers, developers, builders, maintenance crews, horticulturists, governments, land stewards and organizations offering building standards.

Construction Debris Disposal

It is unlawful to dispose of construction debris into the storm drain or into a creek. This includes washing concrete, hosing off sediment-laden surfaces, discharges from sawcutting, etc. Make sure that any discharges are contained and disposed properly. For example, you can dig a depression and line with plastic to collect concrete wash water. Once the material is dry, the dried waste can be disposed along with other construction debris. Sweep up construction debris like concrete, stucco and mortar and recycle it or dispose of it at a designated facility.

Here are places you can take your construction wastes that have been swept or collected: 

For more information on Construction Activities, contact Cathleen Garnand or call (805) 568-3561.