Geotechnical Review
Got Dirt
Grading Permit
Grading Complaints

The geotechnical report is a tool used to communicate the site conditions and design and construction recommendations for a project site. These types of reports are typically required for any structures such as main residences, guesthouses, additions, barns, detached accessory structures etc. Such reports are also required for most site grading, retaining walls, and hillside construction.


Why does Ventura County require geotechnical (soils) report review?

The County of Ventura is over 2,200 square miles and with area of that magnitude, the geology and soil conditions can vary vastly. Like most regions of this size, the County has numerous faults, areas of expansive soils, areas with liquefaction, landslide potential and other geological natural hazards. The County of Ventura attempts, through geological/geotechnical review, to ensure that geotechnical design recommendations and plans meet minimum standards and acceptability, in order to reduce the exposure to geologic hazards and the damage resulting from them.

Geotechnical review by the County involves thorough review of pertinent geologic and engineering reports, maps and other information to reduce the exposure of a site or structure to such hazards, consistent with accepted standards of the geotechnical profession. Additionally, the State of California requires geotechnical review within mapped seismic (earthquake) zones. The basic responsibility for design remains with the applicant's consultants.The importance of preparing an adequate geotechnical report cannot be taken lightly. Therefore, the report should be as clear, concise, and accurate. Both an adequate site investigation and a comprehensive geotechnical report are necessary to construct a safe, cost-effective project. Engineers need these reports to conduct an adequate review of geotechnical related features, e.g., earthwork and foundations.


Requirments of a typical Geotechnical Report

Geotechnical Reports must comply with the County of Ventura General Plan, Goals, Policy and Programs as well as provide the information required by the Ventura County Building Code, latest Edition. The following guidelines are provided to assist in the preparation of Geotechnical Reports for Building and Grading Permits.

  1. Purpose and Scope of Study
    1. Proposed Project Description;
    2. Site Address and Assessor Parcel Number (APN)
    3. Scope of Work: ex. Geotechnical Report, Fault Investigation,
    4. Date of site inspection and person performing inspection;
    5. Job Address: Lot/Tract Number, APN (Assessor’s Parcel Number);
    6. Signature and registration number of licensed professionals; Soils Engineer, Geologist
  2. Site Conditions
    1. Location description
    2. Site Access: How is site Accessed?
    3. Site Topography including Site Maps with scale and north arrow
      1. USGS Quad Location Map
      2. Dibblee, USGS, or CGS Regional Geologic Map
      3. California Seismic Hazards, Earthquake, Landslides and Liquefaction
    4. Site Relief, steepness and heights of slopes
    5. Site Drainage Conditions and Evidence of Erosion.
    6. Geologic Hazards; faults, landslides, liquefaction, subsidence, erosion, rockfall, etc.
    7. FEMA floodplains
    8. Existing man made features.
    9. Existing improvement performance or distress.
    10. Past site uses.
    11. Adjacent Property; present use or boundary delineation, existing structures, etc.
  3. Planned Construction Parameters
    1. Type of construction
    2. Type of foundation and floor system, including setbacks.
    3. Number of stories
    4. Estimated structural loads
    5. Distance to adjacent structures and property lines
    6. Retaining wall type and surcharge loads
    7. Swimming Pool or other structures
  4. Geotechnical Data
    1. Previous Geotechnical Data, referenced reports
    2. Field Investigation
      1. Scope of field investigation, date, methods used, sampling methods and type of sample, logs of exploration (boring/test pit, etc.), elevations of explorations, method of backfilling and future requirements.
      2. Site plan showing explorations, proposed improvements, terrain and man made features, areas of geologic hazard, access to proposed improvements, cross-sections, geologic information and structural data
      3. Data on location and method used for sample collection, both surface and subsurface.
      4. Groundwater conditions, depth encountered or depth of historical high based on research source, provide source. Must demonstrate groundwater table is greater than 5 feet to lowest below grade floor level. (Sec. 1803.5.4)
    3. Laboratory Testing:
      1. Describe the laboratory testing procedures and test results. Provide graphical laboratory test results, and reference laboratory test procedures.
        1. Soil Classification ASTM
        2. Grain Size Analysis justifying soil classification ASTM
        3. Moisture content and dry density for undisturbed samples ASTM.
        4. Expansion Index (VC Building Code)
        5. Shear Strength ASTM
        6. Consolidation ASTM
        7. Corrosivity properties; sulfide-sulfate, chlorides, pH, and Resistivity.
        8. R-value
      2. Other tests to obtain material properties.
    4. Analysis
      1. Foundation design criteria
        1. Foundation type, depth, width, bearing material, installation conditions and allowable loads, lateral pressures, coefficient of friction.
        2. Estimated settlement, total, differential and rate.
        3. For Pile Foundations:
          1. Point of Fixity or Depth to Fixity from Ground Surface
          2. Downward and Upward Capacity based on Skin Friction
          3. Requirements for Restraint from all Four Directions (Sec. 1810.3.13)
          4. Moment and Shear Diagram resulting from Lateral Loads based on Embedment Depth and Soil Type
      2. Expansive Soils
      3. Pavement Design, R-value
      4. Hydrocollapse potential.
      5. Slope Stability; cross-sections, gross (static and pseudo-static) and surficial
      6. Retaining Wall, static, seismic loads for walls over 6 feet high. (Sec. 1803.5.12)
      7. CBC Seismic Analysis for Structural Design
      8. Liquefaction
      9. In accordance with California Geological Survey, SP 117
      10. Surface Displacement due to faulting or seismically induced lateral spreading
      11. Temporary Excavation Slope Stability and Shoring System Design
      12. Surface Erosion Resistance.
      13. Geologic hazards, faulting, landsliding, rockfall, as applicable
  5. Report
    1. Conclusions
    2. Geotechnical Engineering Recommendations.
    3. Foundation Design
    4. Retaining Wall Design including dynamic loads
    5. Subdrain System Design
    6. Slabs on Grade
    7. Concrete Slabs, Pavements, Permeable Pavements.
    8. Mitigation of Geologic, Geotechnical, and Flood Hazard Risks
    9. Grading Recommendations, including transition pads or other project requirements
    10. List of References

For a printable list of the Typical Requirements of a Geotechnical Report, click here.


Who can prepare a Geotechnical Report? Geological Report?

The appropriate preparer of an engineering geologic report is a Certified Engineering Geologist (CEG). The appropriate preparer of a soil engineering report is a registered Civil Engineer experienced in geotechnical engineering (preferably a titled Geotechnical Engineer).



A list of fees or deposits can be found under  "Fees & Deposit" section on the Information & Handouts page. The fees associated with a Standalone Soils Report or Geology report review is a nonrefundable processing charge.

Fees associated with a Grading Permit plancheck is included in the Grading Permit plancheck deposit. A portion of the deposit is collected to cover charges by the County Geologist. Any balance remaining in a deposit account after all billing is completed is refundable. In cases where the deposit does not cover the actual cost of services, an additional deposit amount will be requested.




Free Clean Debris Basins Dirt

“The Ventura County Watershed Protection District (VCWPD) is looking to clean debris basins shown on this Map in the fall of 2017.  The earth material from the debris basins should not have any man made contaminants.  If you would like to be considered as a candidate to receive earth materials from these debris basins, we are looking for nearby property owners who could take most if not all of the earth material from one or more debris basins and be close to the location where the removals will be done.  The VCWPD may be able to deliver the material to your property for no charge when it is available.  You would be required to obtain a grading permit from the Ventura County Public Works Agency for stockpiling the material on your property and then spreading and permanently placing the earth material on your property within 9 months of receiving it.  If interested, please contact Charles Cable at 805-654-2042 or email him at and he will go over the details with you.”

Debris Basin Cleanout Locations


The Public Works Agency, in an effort to help people and businesses with their grading needs, will post on this website a list of projects that have excess dirt available and a list of projects that are in need of dirt in Ventura County.

The minimum volume of dirt needed or available that will be posted is 100 cubic yards. A dump truck can hold approximately 7 cubic yards of dirt while a double dump truck can hold 14 cubic yards. 

To post a listing of the need or excess dirt, please email the following information to

1.Using Google Earth, provide the longitude and latitude of the area where the dirt is located or needed.
2.Provide the name of the property owner and their contact information including email and a phone number.
3.Provide the Tax Assessor Parcel Number(s) of the property.
4.Provide an estimate of the area (square footage or acreage) and the volume of dirt needed or available.
5.Provide the timeframe estimate of when this project will need to start and be completed to the nearest calendar month.
6.Provide a brief reason why you need to move the dirt or need the dirt such as for agricultural purposes, road maintenance, improve site drainage, or to enhance the site for development purposes.  

The Public Works Agency will review each request and discuss the potential project with the property owner. A grading plan, geotechnical report, and grading permit may be needed. The Public Works agency may discuss with the owner other permitting agencies requirements and their contact information.

The Watershed Protection District and the Transportation Department of County of Ventura also has times where excess dirt is available from their projects. If you would like to be a recipient of their dirt, please contact and provide the information in items 1 through 6 above.


 Why is Grading Regulated?

Grading is regulated because it can cause serious problems when not done properly and can result in damage to your property or other property or result in the deposition of sediment or debris on public right of way, private property, streams or natural water courses, or otherwise cause a nuisance. Newly exposed soil subjected to the elements of the weather can erode easily, moving from areas where you want it (e.g., on the hill behind your house) to areas where you don't want it (e.g., up against your house, in a street or natural water course, or on a neighbor's property).

If native soil underlying a new building pad is not adequately compacted or if the soil density varies too much, the building may settle and suffer structural damage. Excessive grading may cause loss of natural vegetation, accelerated erosion potential, habitat intrusion, soil instability, and visual scarring and may also damage other natural resources for years to come. Even minor grading can change the way water drains across a property, which can cause erosion problems that may affect existing drainage patterns, road access to a home or even an entire community.

A grading permit is required for all but a limited scope of earth-moving operations so that these problems can be prevented. Even when a permit is not required, you should still use great care in grading construction to preserve your own property and to protect adjoining properties and public roads. You may be asking yourself when is a grading permit required, the Ventura Building Code Appendix J provides specifics for when a grading permit is required.


Need to Know when a grading permit is required and what grading activities are exempt? Download the following Handout: When is a grading permit required? 



For Initial Submittal and plancheck review

The following items should be included in the Grading Plan Submittal application packet:

□  DS-00 Grading Permit Checklist (PDF)

□  DS-01 Grading Permit Application  (PDF)

□  DS-02, Grading & Plancheck Processing Agreement (PDF)

□  DS-03, Authorization of Agent form, (If applicable) (PDF)

□  DS-04, Acknowledgement of Employment of Technical Consultants(PDF)

□  DS-05, Grading plan checklist for plan check (PDF)

 DS-06, Stormwater Req. New Development & Redevelopment Questionnaire (PDF)

 DS-07, Stormwater Questionnaire for Construction (PDF)

 Plan Check Deposit/Fee. 

□  Soils Report Review Fee

□  Geology Report Review Fee (If applicable) 

□  Two Copies Soils Report

□  Two Copies of Geology Report (If applicable)

□  One Copy of the Archaeological Report (If applicable)

□  Two Copies of Hydrology Report (Comply with VCBC Appendix J §J105.2)

□  Two Copies of Grading Plans – 24” x 36”Standard Grading Plan Title Sheet (PDF, DWG) and

     Standard Titleblock for remaining sheets. (PDF, DWG)

□  Off-site construction permission (If applicable) (PDF)

Stormwater Quality form(s) SW-1, SW-2, SW-HR (PDF's)

*Forms are site & design specific, fill out form DS-251 to determine the Stormwater Quality form(s) required

□  Construction Inspection Deposit.†  (Presented either at initial submittal, or prior to approval of the grading plan. Applicant is responsible for the actual cost of inspection.)

† For all fees or deposits see "Fees & Deposit" page under the Information & Handouts page.


Permit Issuance (Items required Prior to Permit Issuance)

  • Two Copies of the final Geotechnical Report (If not already submitted)
  • Three Sets of Grading and Drainage Plans (signed by the soils engineer, Geologist, Civil Engineer)
  • Stormwater Forms (As applicable determined by the "Questionaire for Construction" form)
  • Digital signed copies of the Geotechnical Report, Grading & drainage plans, Archaelogical Report. (May be submitted via email, Compact Disc(CD) or uploaded to an online storage site )
  • Grading Inspection Deposit


 A Grading Permit Application package is provided as a PDF or ZIP single download. The package includes all the forms required for an initial submittal.



Grading Violation


Any significant amount of Grading within the unicorporated area of Ventura County is required to comply with the Ventura County Building Code Appendix J section. If grading work is performed and does not meet the requirements of the Ventura County Building Code then it may constitute a violation. So what constitutes a violation? Visit our When is a grading permit required? page.

Inspectors are visiting active grading permits sites all around the County and will make note of any unusual grading activity when they see it from the public right of way, however, an Inspectors reach is limited to the sites that are readily visible. For areas that inspectors can not see, we depend on the public to help spot and inform the County of any potential violations. If you notice any unusual grading or earthwork that appears to be over 50 Cubic Yards and you suspect a permit was not issued; please fill out and submit a Grading Complaint Form. Ventura County Public Works staff can tell alot from a picture and may be able to determine if a violation has occured, if at all possible, please take pictures and submit them along with your grading complaint.

To file a grading complaint, fill out a Grading Complaint Form. Please attach pictures to the form, these pictures are extremely helpful in determing if a violation has occured.