Grading & Drainage

When Is a Grading or Drainage Permit Required?

In general, a grading permit is required when grading affects a watercourse, involves cuts or fills greater than 5 feet in vertical depth, or when the total volume of cut or fill material is 150 cubic yards or more. Grading is exempt from a permit if it is below these thresholds or if it is associated with excavation, under a valid building permit, of a foundation for a building or structure within five feet of the perimeter foundation.

Exempt from Grading Permit

Grading, Small permit

Grading Approval and Permit

Cuts or fills less than 150 cubic yards or 5 feet or less in vertical depth. Cuts or fills between 150 and 500 cubic yards (up to 1,000 cubic yards where average slope of the proposed developed area is 15% or less). Cuts or fills greater than 500 cubic yards (or greater than 1,000 cubic yards where average slope of the proposed developed area is 15% or less).

Grading work may be subject to approval by the Planning Office. However, grading work which consists of cut and fill each of which is 500 cubic yards or less in volume, or cut and fill each of which is 1,000 cubic yards or less in volume where the average slope of the proposed developed area is 15% or less is eligible for a grading permit, small. This is a streamlined approval process that allows the Grading Official to issue the permit without Planning Office approval as long as the project does not involve a new land use approval (e.g., building site approval, use permit, etc.)

Drainage:

If your project is creating more than 2,000 square feet of net new impervious area or changing an existing drainage pattern, a drainage permit is required. See our Drainage Manual as well for additional information.

Grading Guidelines

How Do I Obtain a Grading Approval?

For a Grading, Small permit, applications are accepted at the Planning Office. See the Grading, Small checklist  for necessary application materials.

For grading that exceeds the limits of a grading permit, small, conditional approval is required from the Planning Office. Required application materials can be found on the Grading checklist. After a project has received conditional approval from the Planning Office, the Land Development Engineering Section reviews the final engineering plans and specifications for conformance with the conditions of approval, County Land Development and Grading Ordinances, and County standards.

Obtaining a Grading Permit

After your project has received Grading Approval from the Planning Office, you are authorized to apply for a Grading Permit.  

Grading Abatement

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

When is a Drainage Permit Required?

If your project is creating more than 2,000 square feet of net new impervious area or changing an existing drainage pattern, a drainage permit is required. See our Drainage Manual as well for additional information.​​​​​​

©2021 County of Santa Clara. All rights reserved.