CZU Rebuild Directive:
Information Sheet and FAQs

On September 14, 2021 the County Board of Supervisors directed staff to allow certain CZU rebuild projects located in areas subject to geologic hazards to obtain building permits without further geologic evaluation as is usually required under County Code Chapter 16.10. The Board direction, referred to as the CZU Rebuild Directive, outlines the projects that are eligible to be processed using the directive:

  • Owner: Applicant must be the property owner who held title to the affected property as of August 16, 2020;
  • Legality: Original residence must have been legal or legal-nonconforming based on demonstrated construction prior to 1986;
  • Size & location: Proposed replacement structures must be “in-kind”, meaning no more than 10% larger than the original structure and in substantially the same location as the original structure, unless the footprint is re-located to a building envelope at lower risk of impact from geologic hazard.

The benefit for those choosing to have their building permits processed under the provisions of the CZU Rebuild Directive is that they do not need to submit any technical reports for County peer review to obtain Geologic Hazards Clearance, saving time and money for the applicant. Applicants acting under the CZU Rebuild Directive remain subject to the following requirements:

  • Applicant must submit a geotechnical (soils) report with their building permit application that addresses the requirements of the California Building Code;
  • Applicant must notarize and record a “Notice of Geologic Hazards” on the property title prior to building permit issuance.

The CZU Rebuild Directive is aimed at reducing hardship and expediting approvals for homeowners who want to reestablish what they had prior to the fire, but lack the time and/or funds to undertake further geologic investigation of their building site. Those purchasing a property in the CZU burn area or significantly modifying/expanding the preexisting development remain subject to the provisions of Santa Cruz County Code Chapter 16.10.

County staff have received many questions related to the CZU Rebuild Directive applicability and how it affects the overall rebuild permit process. A list of frequently asked questions and answers is provided below:


If you have already received an issued Geologic Hazard Clearance no further action is required on your part. The CZU Rebuild Directive applies to those who received a Geologic Hazard Clearance result indicating further geologic evaluation is necessary before they can apply for a building permit.


Geologic reports can take months to schedule and complete testing and can cost thousands of dollars. Those choosing to proceed under the CZU Rebuild Directive are relieved of the County requirement for a geologic report and receive Geologic Hazard Clearance to apply for a building permit without County review of technical reports.


The CZU Rebuild Directive only applies to applications submitted by the property owner as of August 16, 2020. Those purchasing a property that has received a Geologic Hazard Clearance result indicating further geologic evaluation is required will need to submit technical reports for County review prior to issuance of a Geologic Hazard Clearance to submit a building permit application.


County staff have modeled the “Notice of Geologic Hazards” after a similar recorded document required for non-CZU rebuild proposals in geologically hazardous areas of the County for the past 25 years. During that time, the County has not been made aware of any negative impacts to property values or insurability tied to the recorded document. County staff have spoken with banking and insurance industry professionals and confirmed that the document would not pose an issue for those entities.

    • Apply for a Geologic Hazard Clearance if you have not done so already. This pre-application clearance will let you know whether the County requires further geologic evaluation for your rebuild site, and whether the project is eligible for processing under the CZU Rebuild Directive.
    • If you have already received a Geologic Hazard Clearance result requiring further geologic evaluation, County staff is currently reviewing clearances to determine whether projects are eligible and will reach out to property owners individually.
  1. If your project is eligible and you choose to process your permit under the CZU Rebuild Directive, submit the CZU Rebuild Directive Acknowledgement Form at the time of building permit application. This form must be signed by the property owners, but does not need to be notarized or recorded on the property title.
  2. Prior to building permit application issuance the property owner must sign, notarize and record a “Notice of Geologic Hazards” on the property title. The “Notice of Geologic Hazards” document will be provided to the applicant by Recovery Permit Center staff after plans have been approved and prior to building permit issuance


For rebuilders who are within the Atkins Study area and whose Geologic Hazard Clearance result noted debris flow as the only hazard of concern, the Atkins Study results satisfies the County Code Chapter 16.10 requirement for a geologic report. In these cases, a geotechnical (soils) report is still required to meet building code and provide mitigation recommendations to address the debris flow hazard.

Those choosing to proceed under the CZU Rebuild Directive can obtain their Geologic Hazard Clearance without further geologic review and can submit their geotechnical (soils) report with their building permit application in compliance with the California Building Code.

Rebuilders complying with County Code Chapter 16.10 (that is, not using the Directive) are required to submit the geologic and/or geotechnical (soils) report for peer review and acceptance prior to obtaining a Geologic Hazard Clearance to submit for their building permit.


No. Those choosing the CZU Rebuild Directive will submit their geotechnical (soils) report as part of their supplemental documents, and plans will be reviewed to ensure the design recommendations in the soils report are reflected in the design and calculations. The soils report must include the geologic hazards noted in the Geologic Hazards Clearance, but the adequacy of the mitigation recommendations is determined by the Geotechnical Engineer of Record that prepared the report.

Regardless of permit processing path, a geotechnical plan review letter is required to be submitted with the building permit application materials in which the geotechnical engineer confirms that the project plans were prepared in conformance with the geotechnical report.


No. While the County may not require a geologic report to process applications submitted under the CZU Rebuild Directive, geotechnical engineers may determine during the course of their independent site investigation that further geologic information is required in order for them to produce mitigation recommendations.


Yes. If you meet eligibility requirements for the CZU Rebuild Directive you can choose that processing path at any time by submitting a signed CZU Rebuild Directive Acknowledgement Form with your building permit application materials.

Please note that the fee for County peer review of technical reports is $1,000 and is non-refundable after review comments are issued by the County reviewer.

Summary of the similarities and differences between processing paths:

Requirement Comply with SCCC 16.10 CZU Rebuild Directive
Eligibility Requirements
Applicant is property owner as of 8/16/20 No Yes
Size is up to 110% of previous residence No Yes
Rebuilt residence in same location as previous No Yes
Pre-Application Geologic Hazard Clearance Ye Yes
If a geologic report is required by the clearance, County peer review of the geology and/or geotechnical report is required >Yes No
Building Permit Application Submittal Requirements
Geotechnical (soils) report Yes Yes
Geotechnical (soils) Engineer plan review letter Yes Yes
Prior to Building Permit Issuance
Record "Notice of Geologic Hazards" on property title Yes* Yes*
* The format of the "Notice of Geologic Hazards" for those complying with SCCC 16.10 and CZU Rebuild Directive is the same, but the characterization of the geologic hazards will differ in that accepted reports will be cited and County peer review noted in the Notices issued in compliance with SCCC 16.10.