We restrict development in environmentally critical areas (ECAs) and areas around ECAs called buffers. Examples of ECAs include landslide-prone areas, wetlands, land next to rivers and streams (riparian management areas), and fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas.
A small project waiver allows you to do some limited development in some ECAs and ECA buffers, as long as you meet certain criteria in the code based on the particular critical area.
For riparian management areas (the land within 100 feet on either side of a water course), a small project waiver is possible for fences, rockeries, or similar features or temporary disturbance for installation of utility lines as long as they:
For wetland buffer areas, a small project waiver is possible for additions to existing structures or for temporary disturbance for installation of utility lines. The waiver is possible as long as no construction occurs over or in a riparian watercourse, water body, or wetland. The development must:
For steep slope areas or buffers, a small project waiver is possible for additions to existing structures or for accessory structures as long as:
These limits on the area that will be disturbed include the excavation area needed for construction and the area of the proposed structure, including any eaves and overhangs. These limits on disturbance are calculated cumulatively from October 31, 1992. The calculations include all types of development in the critical area and/or buffer due to other small project waivers, relief from prohibition on steep slope development, ECA variances, and ECA exceptions.
If we approve your small project waiver application, you may still need an ECA review.
You can’t get a small project waiver for:
You must meet these criteria to qualify for a small project waiver:
Note: In landslide-prone areas, we may require a geotechnical report showing it is safe to build on your site.
Fees for most small project waivers are based on our hourly review rate.
You must receive a small project waiver decision from us before you apply for a building permit or master use permit. Your application for a small project waiver needs to be part of a specific project. You need to complete a pre-application site visit before you submit your application. We determine if you qualify during the permit application review.