Grading Alternative Review Program

An applicant may elect to use the Alternative Review Program for those projects in compliance with County Title 22 (Section 52.080 Subsection B). This process allows an applicant to obtain technical assistance, inspection and sign-off by either the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) or the Resource Conservation District (RCD). 

The Alternative Review process is intended to provide a collaborative review process for more complex grading projects. Projects which qualify for Alternative Review may either obtain a standard County Grading Permit, or may instead choose to follow the Alternative Review process. This process allows the local Resource Conservation District (RCD) to perform the review, approval, and inspection duties in lieu of the County. There are two RCDs in the County, Upper Salinas-Las Tablas (north  of the Cuesta Grade and Morro Bay) and Coastal San Luis (south of the Cuesta Grade, including the coast from Morro Bay southward). Each RCD is operated independently and is able to define its own procedure for Alternative Review. The County does not dictate what plans need to be submitted, the timing of the review, or the final inspection process – these are all decisions made by the RCD.  Generally, the complexity of the process is directly related to the complexity of the proposed project. For example, building a wide road on steep slopes may require the involvement of a civil engineer to design the plans, while a smaller project (e.g. vegetation removal) might not even require the preparation of plans. 
 
Just because your proposal qualifies for Alternative Review does not mean you must have the project processed through the RCD. If your project qualifies for Alternative Review, you still have the option to seek approval by applying for a County Grading Permit.

Most agricultural grading projects which do not qualify for “exemption” or “agricultural grading” status will 
qualify for alternative review: 

  • Grading for new orchards/vineyards on slopes of 30% or more 
  • Grading or vegetation removal for new rangeland on slopes of 30% or more 
  • Agricultural roads 
  • Streambank restoration or conservation projects (note: if another resource agency is reviewing, 
  • approving, and inspecting plans, this is exempt) 
  • Recreational trails 
  • Waste management systems

Please also reference the complete and comprehensive Guide to Agricultural Grading

Process: 
1. Determine if your proposed project qualified for alternative review.  You may contact your local RCD 
or the Department of Planning and Building for assistance. 


2. Complete an application form which contains information that both the County and the RCD need.  
The Alternative Review form is attached to the handout.  (For roads and ponds you will need to 
contact the Agricultural Commissioner's Office to initiate their review - the process cannot continue 
until the Agricultural Commissioner's Office has reviewed the request and determined that the 
request is for agricultural purposes.) 


3. Submit the form to either the County Department of Planning and Building or to your local RCD.