Land Development

The Discretionary Review Unit encompasses engineering staff that review improvement plans for new development projects, new commercial and residential proposals and issues encroachment permits for activities and construction within the public right-of-way.  The Discretionary Review Unit collaborates with the County Planning and Building groups to review a wide range of development proposals for conformance to Federal, State and local codes and regulations and assess a project’s environmental impacts relative to roadways, bicycle and trail system, drainage and grading.  Staff assists property owners and developers with subdividing property, determining and meeting development requirements, preparing conditions of approval, responding to inquiries about roadways, easements, property rights and drainage.  

The Land Development Unit works extensively with the development community and private residents on projects after they’ve received approvals from the Planning Commission and Board as necessary.  Staff is charged with reviewing subdivision and development improvement plans for conformance to local and state codes and regulations, conditions of approval and mitigations determined through the environmental review process.  Once plans are approved, staff performs field site inspections of improvements including grading, roadways, drainage, bicycle and trail facilities and any other improvements within the public right-of-way.   This unit prepares and processes agreements, such as road improvement, grading or subdivision agreements, necessary to guarantee the contractors performance and ensure the quality of work.     

Both the Discretionary Review and Land Development Units work closely in concert with the Transportation Planning group and the Planning Department to ensure projects are consistent with the General Plan and County Policies, as well as mitigating any impacts that new development might create.

Subdivision Improvements

For projects which propose the subdivision of residential parcels to create more than four lots, a Subdivision Improvement Agreement (SIA) is required in lieu of completing improvements prior to the issuance of a Final Map to create individual parcels. The SIA includes conditions under which the improvements must be completed, and requires the issuance of securities with the County as a beneficiary. These agreements and securities are governed by the Subdivision Map Act, CA Code Sections 66410-66499.58, and are included in County Code Chapter 120.16.

When a project applicant desires to initiate groundwork before the approval of a Final Map, a Subdivision Grading Agreement (SGA) may be utilized in addition to an SIA. An SGA allows the Developer/Owner to complete all the rough grading and infrastructure improvements indicated in the agreement, any referenced in Engineer’s Estimate, including grading, retaining walls, drainage facilities, roadway improvements, water, sewer and erosion control as required. SGAs also require a security in the form of a Restoration Bond.

Road Enroachments

When a project is conditioned to make improvements within the County right-of-way, or to construct roads which will be maintained by the County, either an encroachment permit or Road Improvement Agreement (RIA) is required prior to the beginning of work. Encroachment permits are only required for work on County-maintained roads, and are utilized on road work with an estimated cost of up to $250,000 (see County Code Section 120.08.155.A). Work within the County right of way which exceeds $250,000 require an RIA, which includes additional security (bond) requirements. 

Any work on current or future County-maintained roads are considered public works and are subject to the following requirements:

  • All workers must be paid prevailing wage (either State or Federal, whichever is higher), maintain certified payroll, and submit records to the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). While these records do not need to be submitted to the County (except as part of a request for reimbursement), they must be available for inspection as required and are subject to disclosure under the California Public Records Act.
  • Contractors must follow California Air Resources Board (CARB) requirements for off-road diesel vehicle emissions (13 CCR section 2449). 
  • The project owner or developer must provide securities in the form of a Performance Bond and Laborers & Materialsmen Bond, each in the amount of the total estimated project cost. 

Samples of past RIAs can be found in Legistar. Prior to April 2024, all RIAs were submitted to the Board of Supervisors for approval. With the adoption of Ordinance 5194, effective April 4, 2024, the Director of Transportation is delegated the authority to approve RIAs for projects up to $1,000,000, with an report provided to the Board reflecting actions taken during the previous Fiscal Year. RIAs for projects over $1,000,000 still require Board approval, along with any amendment thereto or acceptance thereof.