Emergency Flood Repair Regulatory Information for Private Properties


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(Santa Barbara, Calif.) – Under normal circumstances, construction, maintenance, and repairs within the bed and banks of streams on private property require permits from state and federal agencies. The Santa Barbara County Flood Control District is not a permitting agency and does not issue permits for creek projects on private property.  

Under emergency circumstances, the same regulations apply, but the permitting processing (if needed) can take place during and after the emergency activities. It is best to contact the agencies before or as soon as possible after work needs to take place to protect life and property. Emergency work may include measures to protect life and property.  

Ventura County has prepared a booklet of guidelines which is also helpful for Santa Barbara County. https://docs.vcrma.org/images/pdf/planning/conservation/wetlands-permitting-guide.pdf    

In general, private landowners will need to provide a location map, parcel number, nature of the work needed/being undertaken, dates of damage, dates of repairs, conditions of the watercourse, photos, and other pertinent information to regulatory agencies. A full repair may need to wait for both complete permitting and more favorable work conditions.  

Efforts to repair and rebuild structures throughout the unincorporated areas of the county (outside of the following cities: Buellton, Carpinteria, Goleta, Guadalupe, Lompoc, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Solvang) will be supported by the Santa Barbara County Planning and Development Department (County P&D). For creek-bank repair and other drainage work that does not involve structures, County P&D does not issue permits except for specific cases with large amounts of grading or special considerations. County P&D can assist in determining if your project needs a County permit: (805)568-2000. 

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has a variety of programs that may help fund the restoration of private properties affected by floods and other natural disasters. Requests to NRCS must be received within 60 days of being able to access the private property after the natural disaster. Residents may contact NRCS District Conservationist Emma Chow at emma.chow@usda.gov or (805)863-9926. 

For emergencies, residents can contact local regulatory agency staff at the following numbers and email addresses. 

  • Santa Barbara County Flood Control (for County-owned facility questions): Andrew Raaf, (805)722-7250, asraaf@countyofsb.org.  

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