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Environmental & Resource Protection
Exceptions to Riparian Setbacks

Development activities (such as grading, land clearing, building and tree or shrub removal) other than those allowed through exemptions and exceptions are not allowed in and adjacent to riparian corridors.

A riparian exception is required for development activities that fall within the protected areas. In order for a riparian exception to be approved, all of the following findings must be made:

  1. That there are special circumstances or conditions affecting the property;
  2. That the exception is necessary for the proper design and function of some permitted or existing activity on the property;
  3. That the granting of the exception will not be detrimental to the public welfare or injurious to other property downstream or in the area in which the project is located;
  4. That the granting of the exception, in the Coastal Zone, will not reduce or adversely impact the riparian corridor, and there is no feasible less environmentally damaging alternative; and
  5. That the granting of the exception is in accordance with the purpose of this chapter, and with the objectives of the General Plan and elements thereof, and the Local Coastal Program Land Use Plan.

Certain activities are exempt from the ordinance, including:

  • Continuance of a pre-existing use (both agricultural and non-agricultural).
  • Work done in accordance with a valid State Timber Harvesting Permit.
  • Activities listed in the California Food and Agricultural Code for pest control.
  • Drainage, erosion control, or habitat restoration required as a condition of County approval of a project.