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Alternative Review Program FAQs

1. What is the Alternative Review Program?

Alternative Review is a unique agricultural grading review program where Upper Salinas Las-Tablas RCD and the Coastal San Luis RCD have partnered with the County to provide landowners an alternative ag grading permit in lieu of the County’s standard grading permit.

2. Why would I elect to go through the Alternative Review Program instead of the County’s Standard Grading Permit?

The Alternative Review Program was created with the County to provide a lower cost, time saving permitting process geared toward agricultural projects. This Program encompasses seven approved practices (see question 5) allowing the RCD to expedite the completion of these specific projects.  

Should I get a County Grading Permit or Alternative Review Permit?

3. If I Qualify for ARP do I have to go through the RCD?

No, you always have the option to apply for a County Grading Permit.

4. How does the County Determine if a Grading Permit is required?

A grading permit is required for any of the following:
· 50 cubic yards (cumulative) – this means cut plus fill
· 20 cubic yards (cumulative) – if project involves work in a watercourse
· 1 acre of vegetation removal

Ask us about specific thresholds if you are considering ARP for your next project.

5. What Projects are Eligible for ARP?

Grading for new or expanded orchards/vineyards on slopes of 30% or more · Grading or vegetation removal for new rangeland on slopes of 30% or more · Ag roads · Ponds, dams and reservoirs · Streambank restoration or conservation projects · Recreational trails · Waste management systems

6. How Much Does ARP Cost?

If the landowner decides to go through ARP,  technical assistance will be charged on a hourly basis which will be billed monthly. If the project changes or goes beyond the budgeted scope of work due to unforeseen circumstances the landowner will be notified in writing that the current ARP agreement will need to be modified and additional funding will be required. 

7. Will all ARP Project’s require Engineered Plans?

Not all ARP projects require engineering plans, it depends on the complexity of the project. If engineered plans are required, they must comply with RCD requirements.

8. Will the US-LT RCD Design Engineered Plans for ARP Projects?

If the client needs engineered plans, they can choose to utilize the RCD’s engineering services or hire an engineer of their choice. The RCD can also provide a recommendation list that includes specialists with up-to-date training for the best management practices we utilize.

9. If my Project Requires Additional Regulatory Agency Permits, can the RCD assist in obtaining those Permits?

Yes.  The US-LT RCD has partnered with Sustainable Conservation, Coastal San Luis RCD and the Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) to establish a Partners In Restoration (PIR) Program for the County of San Luis Obispo. Under the PIR program, programmatic permits are secured up-front from federal, State and local agencies to enable voluntary restoration on private farms, ranches and rural residential properties. The PIR program coordinates permitting across all the regulatory agencies. It provides a forum where landowners, scientists, the RCD’s and agencies can work together to implement conservation practices.

*Additional information can be found on the US-LT RCD website under Permit Coordination

10. How long will it take to obtain an ARP Permit?

The duration of the permitting process will depend on the difficulty of the project.  In general, if a project is straightforward and does NOT require any agency permits, the time of year does not impede critical wildlife habitat, nesting or migration and all of the material is provided and approved by the RCD District engineer, a project can take as little as 1-2 months.

11. How long is the ARP permit good for?

Once the permit has been issued the landowner has two years from the date of issuance to complete work as stated in the approved plan.  If a project cannot be completed within the two years the landowner can request a one year extension.