Grading Approval

The grading approval procedure is intended to evaluate and condition earth-moving activity in accordance with the County Grading Ordinance. It is intended to ensure that ground clearing, excavation, earthwork, and any resulting changes in drainage do not detrimentally impact people, property or the environment.

Grading Approval is required for every Grading Permit issued by Land Development Engineering.

Grading Abatement

If you require Grading Abatement, follow the Grading Abatement Pre-Screening Checklist.

Grading & Hillside Development Guidelines

Application of permit





Master Application Form


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(updated 2021 September 8)


Helpful Links for some checklist items


Grading plans must be legibly drawn to an appropriate scale, sheet size 24”x36," and must include all items specified by Section C12-411 of the County Grading Ordinance.  Must include a table detailing cut and fill quantities (cubic yards) associated with each component of the project (e.g. building pad, driveway, accessory structures, landscaping, etc.).  Plans shall be folded to 9 x 12 inch size.  When additional applications are concurrently being filed (e.g., building site approval, design review), submittal items need not be duplicated.

Additional Information and Materials that May be Required

Septic System Plan

If a septic system is existing or proposed, each site must be evaluated by DEH. The evaluation entails a site assessment, a soil profile trench and a percolation test. One copy of the site plan should be field checked, stamped, and signed by DEH field office and then submitted with the application. DEH charges an additional fee for site evaluations. Contact DEH at (408) 918-3400. South County office: (408) 779-0631.


Geological Report  (2 copies and 1 electronic copy)

Consult with County Geologist prior to filing application to determine whether a geologic report will be required.  An additional fee is required for geologic report review.  See also geologic hazards page.

House Size – Viewshed (-d1/-d2)

If the project is located within the –d1 or –d2 combining districts, the gross floor area of the proposed house must be indicated on the plans. 

Storm Water Discharge: NPDES Notice of Intent

If the project will disturb one acre or more of land, a permit from the California Water Resources Control Board  will be required. 


Stanford: GUP Checklist

Required for any grading project located within the boundaries of the Stanford Community Plan land-use map. 

Identification of Potential Historic Resources (Part I and Part II forms)

If the project includes demolition of structures 50 years or older, submit a completed and signed Identification of Properties for Potential Historic Significance forms, a copy of the Santa Clara County Residential Unit Property Record (available from the County Assessor’s Office, 5th Floor) for the subject property and photographs of each elevation of the subject structure and any related structures or associated features. Please note that the 50-year age reference is a discretionary guideline; there are circumstances where a property less than 50 years old may be potentially significant.


Williamson Act Compatible Use Determination

Required if subject parcel is under a Williamson Act contract.  It is strongly suggested that this determination be applied for and resolved prior to BSA application submittal.  An additional fee is required. 


Santa Clara Valley Habitat Plan-Coverage Screening Form

If the subject property is located within the Habitat Plan Permit Area​, submit a completed Coverage Screening Form. The Coverage Screening Form will assist in determining if the proposed project is classified as a “covered project” under the Plan. If the project is identified as a “covered project” per the Screening Form, submit the Fees and Conditions Worksheet with the application.

Fire Protection Information
Include the following information (if applicable) on the site plan.  Indicate existing or proposed.

  • Provide information water source (name of water provider or on-site well).
  • Hydrants: Show type (wharf or standard) and location of closest available or proposed hydrant(s).
  • Private Access Road/Driveways: Show drivable width, vertical clearance, surface, load-bearing capacity, turning radii, percent grade, turnarounds, turnouts and bridges.


Mailing Labels (1 set)

Required if subject property is located within 300 feet of the exterior boundary of Santa Clara County. 

Other Reports and Studies

Depending on location, development intensity and site characteristics, additional reports (e.g. arborist, biology, archaeology, noise) may be required.

Small Project Grading Permit  (GS Updated January 14, 2019)

  • Final Grading Plans (plus one 11x17 print)
  • Grading Ordinance Design Standards Form
  • Copies of Improvement Plan Checklist
  • Copies of Engineering Cost Estimate
  • Sets of Drainage Calculations
  • Geotechnical Reports
  • Sets of Retaining Wall Calculations (if applicable)
  • Copy of Assessor's Parcel Map
  • Evidence Showing Legal Creation of Lot
  • Copy of Current Recorded Grant Deed
  • Original and 1 Copy of Categorical Exemption Petition Form
  • Original and 1 Copy of CEQA Environmental Information Form
  • Stanford University GUP Checklist (if at Stanford University)


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Ordinance Provisions



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Fee Schedule



Small Project Grading Approval

Storm Water Management Plan

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