Why am I being asked to set up a pre-screening appointment with the Building and Safety Division?

The City has streamlined the rebuilding process in efforts to provide a consistent and predictable process for our residents. We are committed to spending quality time with each parcel owner to address their unique needs.

To promote continuity, we suggest that you and your architect attend together to jointly understand the requirements. The appointments are an important part of the process to address issues in advance, ensure that your home is completed with no extra time or costs, and that there are no surprises later that will cause delay. Appointments can usually be made the same week that they are requested by calling (805) 677-3901.  

What is required to submit plans?

The Residential Plan Check Submittal Screening Checklist is available at  http://www.cityofventura.ca.gov/thomasfirerebuild.

What has the City done to help Thomas Fire property owners rebuild?

Council approved more than $1M in contract services to expedite the rebuild process and meet the community’s need to recover quickly.     Council adopted an Emergency Ordinance for the following:   
     o    Standards and Procedures for Debris Cleanup, January 8, 2018
     o    Recreational Vehicles and Storage Containers, February 26, 2018
     o    Establishing the Thomas Fire Rebuild Overlay Zone, February 26, 2018
     o    Restating the Thomas Fire Rebuild Overlay Zone, April 23, 2018    
     o    Height Determinations & Implementation, September 10, 2018

Why is a Fine Grading Plan required? What is the difference between Fine and Full Grading?

Fine Grading is the removal and re-compaction of the ground to prevent structural failure and other important issues that can arise when homes settle.

A Fine Grading Permit is a new effort to assist Thomas Fire property owners; previously a full grading permit may have been required; .  These plans can be completed by an architect and require knowledge of topography, fencing and drainage to name a few. The cost of this permit is $206.00, and it is approved by the Building and Safety Division. The turn-around time is within the promised Thomas Fire timeline.

Should full Grading permits be required, a Soils Report and Prelim Title Report that is completed by a civil engineer is needed. The cost of this permit is approximately $5-8,000.00 and it is approved by the Land Development Division. The turn-around time is about three weeks.  The triggers for requiring a full grading permit are outlined here.

Have there been changes to the California Building Code?

The Code changes every 3 years and there have been two State erratas to the 2016 Code. It is important to note that sixty percent of the homes lost in the Thomas Fire were built in the 1960s. No changes have been made specifically for Thomas Fire property owners.

Have development fees been added to the Thomas Fire permitting process?

In most cases, no development fees have been added.  The City Council adopted an ordinance to waive limited Thomas Fire development fees however, standards building fees do apply for Thomas Fire permits, with no additional fees required for the expedited services.

Have Building Permit fees increased?

Building Permit Fees change yearly based on additional Code requirements and are determined by each jurisdiction.  However, the City Council took action earlier this year to freeze any regular fee increases; recent fee increases do not apply to Thomas Fire permits which will continue to pay the 2017 fee rates.

Why is the City requiring a fire defensive vegetation plan?

The State of California Fire Marshal, and the Ventura City Fire Marshal require this plan; it is not a new requirement. Defensible landscaping is a critical design feature to provide additional protection to homes facing future fires.

Why is the City requiring a landscaping plan?

The state-mandated Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance (MWELO) went into effect in 2015 and applies to new plantable area for construction projects more than 500 square feet, and rehabilitated landscape projects more than 2,500 square feet. The MWELO is part of the California Green Building Standards Code (Section 4.304).  For Thomas Fire permits, the City is only considering the front year area in calculating the 500 square foot area.

Why is a Mechanical Electrical Plumbing Code required?

The Mechanical Electrical Plumbing Plan (MEP) is not a new requirement for homes larger than 3,000 square feet. In fact, it has been a requirement for more than 10 years by the California Building Code and the California Green Building Provisions.  The City makes it easy for our residents to get approval by helping applicants during the process.  

To expedite the process, the Building and Safety Division requires comprehensive information before we approve and inspect your plan. This includes total habitable space (not including the garage) of 3,000 square feet or greater.  However, it is important for homeowners to plan for items that need electrical; the garage area often contains items such as washing machine and dryers.  Additionally, some systems such as HVAC systems need ventilation to the attic. Making an upgrade on your plans now is easier than realizing later that you need an upgrade in your gas line, or a 1” water instead of a 3/4” water.

Planning for MEP early in the process benefits your safety and will save you time and money. Providing manufacturer’s instructions ensures the system is adequate. If your MEPs are not clearly defined, your contractor will need to come back to Building and Safety later to resubmit the plans and it may require more money or time to revise.  

How long will it take me to get my plans through the initial Plan Check?

The City made a commitment to get Thomas Fire survivors through Plan Check within 14 business days. The turn-around time is currently running 10 business days. This is the first round of plan check; future steps will be based on the applicant’s design team efforts to address any corrections noted.