Geotechnical (Soils) Reports and Administrative Review Process for Projects in CZU Debris Flow Hazard Areas

If your Geologic Hazards pre-clearance did not result in a request for additional technical reports to address debris flow or other geologic hazards, your geotechnical report does not require administrative review by County geologic staff prior to submittal with your building permit application.

In areas covered by the Atkins study, most homeowners who are rebuilding within a potential debris flow hazard area are not required to prepare a geologic report if the only geologic hazard identified by the geologic pre-clearance is related to debris flow. Due to the time and cost to produce site-specific geologic reports, the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County funded a flood and debris flow hazard study (“Atkins Report”) that, among many broader uses, may assist rebuilders by providing debris flow depth and velocity date for us by geotechnical (soils) engineers in lieu of the results of a site-specific geologic report. Please see more information under FAQ #2 here. However, your geotechnical (soils) engineer will still be required to provide debris flow hazard mitigation recommendations.

Pursuant to County Board of Supervisors direction to streamline the rebuilding process for homes destroyed by the CZU Complex Wildfire, an administrative review procedure to determine compliance with the provisions of County Code Chapter 16.10 is being implemented for the review of rebuild projects that meet both the following criteria:

  • Project is located within a designated debris flow hazard area, as depicted on the County of Santa Cruz Geographic Information System layer “CZU Potential Debris Flow Hazard Areas”, and;
  • The Geologic Hazard Clearance issued by County geologic staff for the proposed project scope indicates no geologic report is required to address geologic hazards on the site, provided that identified debris flow hazards are addressed by the project geotechnical (soils) engineer of record.

County geologic staff have prepared a list of considerations for engineers preparing geotechnical (soils) reports for properties meeting these criteria, titled Preparation of Geotechnical (Soils) Reports Within Identified CZU Debris Flow Hazard Areas. Geotechnical (soils) reports that are submitted to the County for acceptance in compliance with County Code Chapter 16.10 must include the CZU Debris Flow Hazard – Geotechnical Engineer of Record Statement, which is signed and stamped by the geotechnical engineer-of-record. The purpose of the engineer statement is to confirm that the project engineer has considered the debris flow hazard and provided design recommendations for mitigation.

The following steps are required:

  • Submit the geotechnical (soils) report for review and pay the $1,000 County review fee.
  • Submit the Geotechnical Engineer of Record Statement.
  • Prior to building permit issuance the owner shall notarize and record a Notice of Geologic Hazards on the property title.

NOTE: In the case where the property owner has elected to take advantage of the CZU Directive, and as a result the rebuild project is not subject to County Code 16.10, the geotechnical (soils) report need ONLY be submitted with the building permit application for review by the Recovery Permit Center for compliance with the California Building Code, and a CZU Debris Flow Hazard – Geotechnical Engineer of Record Statement form is not required.