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Land Use and Construction Permit Review


Monterey County development activity is regulated through permitting to ensure safe and responsible growth.  All new development must comply with various land use policies and building code regulations.  Some of these policies and regulations are related to countywide floodplain management, drainage control, and water supply protection.  MCWRA is responsible for ensuring all development has considered and complied with these water resources related regulations.   

Land Use Permits

A land use permit, commonly known as a “discretionary permit”, is a permit required to allow certain types of development. The Monterey County RMA-Planning Department determines which discretionary permits need MCWRA review and approval. MCWRA reviews these permits and determines which projects should consider impacts to any of the following:

MCWRA may deem a permit application incomplete if the impacts to these water resources are not sufficiently considered. Permit applicants are encouraged to contact MCWRA staff if their projects involve development in the FEMA 100-year floodplain, propose large areas of newly impervious building coverage, or increase existing water use.

Construction Permits

MCWRA is responsible for ensuring a construction project has addressed the following before a construction permit is issued by the Monterey County RMA-Building Services Department:

Floodplain, Drainage, And Water Supply Regulations

Monterey County Code Chapter 16.16 (Countywide Floodplain Ordinance) specifies regulations for floodplains in Monterey County. The purpose of the ordinance is to minimize public and private losses due to flood conditions in specific areas and is a requirement for continued participation in the FEMA National Flood Insurance Program.

Monterey County Code Title 21 21.64.130 (Zoning Ordinance) specifies regulations for land use in the Carmel Valley floodplain. The purpose of this section is to protect the Carmel River and its corridor including visual aspects, value as wildlife habitat and stabilize the river channel; preserve the rural character of Carmel Valley; and promote the public health and safety by lessening local flood potential and flood-related hazards.

The 2010 Monterey County General Plan addresses unincorporated areas of the county, with the exception of coastal areas, and sets forth goals and policies to guide future decisions that relate to the physical development of Monterey County. MCWRA provides advice and land use guidance for the consideration of the following goals:

Due to the diversity of Monterey County, geographically smaller plans were created to provide more specific policies unique to particular geographical areas. MCWRA staff utilizes the following Area and Land Use Plans for specific floodplain management, drainage control, and water supply policies:


On May 7, 2014, Article XI Monterey County Water Resources Agency Fees was adopted by the Board of Supervisors of the MCWRA and incorporated into the Master Fee Schedule. Fees are collected for services provided by MCWRA related to the following:

Permit fees, with the exception of fees for water permits, are collected by the RMA-Planning and Building Services Departments. Fees for water well permits are collected by the Monterey County Health Department. Please see the Current Land Use Fees (effective July 1, 2014) for the above MCWRA services.