Once CalFire opens the burned areas, debris removal is the first step. Property owners are advised against attempting to do this themselves. Not only do fire-damaged properties contain hazardous materials, but removing debris yourself can disqualify you from public clean-up programs. Environmental Health Services ([email protected]) will be overseeing the debris clean-up process, so you will want to contact them.

I have attached an overview to the recovery and rebuilding process. Please note that detailed references to the Santa Cruz County code are provided near the very bottom of this attachment.

Also please find information about the Recovery Resource Center in Santa Cruz and information on how to set up a temporary residence. For a temporary permit for an RV, house trailer or fifth wheel, you will need your Debris Clean Up Certification, then a potable water source verified by a licensed driller, licensed pump company or water purveyor, and an adequate septic system that can be determined through EHS records. Contact EHS at [email protected]  Site plans and diagrams showing the approximate location of septic systems can be found at EHS here – you will need your Assessor’s parcel number.

The Planning Department has a new website to support fire recovery and reconstruction, athttps://www.santacruzcounty.us/FireRecovery.aspx. You can also visit the Planning Department website at www.sccoplanning.com, then click the link “Recover and Rebuild.” Please check back with this site in the coming days and weeks as we are updating the site to add in more and specific detailed information.

In addition, I have included some Environmental Planning information which has more technical information. Abbreviated soils reports are allowed for structures that are replaced in substantially the same footprint as the previous structure, mainly to confirm that the area disturbed by removing the original foundation is addressed.

Please contact Environmental Health Services ([email protected]) regarding septic system and water supply requirements for reconstruction. Their website will be updated very soon with lots of new info.

If you need building permit records, please email: [email protected]. In your request, ask for all records that include plans. For structures built before 1956, please obtain the Assessor’s building records by contacting the County Assessor at [email protected] or (831) 454-2270. If you are unable to find records at the County, try contacting your appraiser or insurance company, where records may occasionally be found. Site plans and diagrams showing the approximate location of septic systems can be found here – you will need your Assessor’s parcel number.


If your house is nonconforming to setbacks, reconstruction of a legal, nonconforming structure after fire is usually allowed in the existing location with just a Building Permit IF:

  1. The reconstructed structure does not increase the nonconforming dimensions of the structure.
  2. It is located in substantially the same footprint as the current / prior structure.

New locations on the site may be considered without the need for an administrative site development permit, if the Planning Director finds that the new location results in greater conformance with code requirements. Relocation that does not result in greater conformance requires variance (13.10.230) or minor exception (13.10.235).

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