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Land Use Authorization Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Do I need to apply for a Land Use Authorization?

In general, any development activity within a USBR easement will require a Letter of Approval or permit from COMB or USBR.  This includes construction, grading, road improvement and utility installation.  If you are unsure if your project requires a permit please contact COMB directly at 805-687-4011 and a member of our staff can help determine any required steps related to operating in or near the easement.

What are the fees associated with a Land Use Authorization?

The fees for application vary from $200 to $500 depending on the type of proposed development.  Additionally, costs for site inspection, engineering and staff time may be billed out if the project requires COMB involvement.  All fees paid to COMB are independent of any fees charged by USBR for project review.

How can I tell if my project is inside a USBR Easement?

In most cases, the existence of the easement will be recorded on the property title.   COMB can also help determine the existence and location of USBR easements, in many cases the easements only take up small portions of any single parcel and may not impact development.  In situations where the exact location of the easement is difficult to determine a surveyor may need to be hired to locate easement lines.

What happens if I don’t apply for a Land Use Authorization?

The City or County of Santa Barbara will notify COMB of permit pending development that might be located close to an easement.  Upon notification COMB and USBR will review the proposed development for possible issues relating to access and infrastructure safety, In certain cases when an encroachment has occurred without COMB knowledge, the land owner may be required to remove any development and restore the easement to the original condition at their own expense.

Will my permit be approved?

With projects ranging from light landscaping or a small shed all the way up to multi-unit residential construction or utility trenching it can be tough to say without project scope and location which will be approved.  Generally activities such as well drilling or construction that would block access for maintenance are denied within the easement for obvious reasons.  Most projects, if existence of the pipeline is considered during design, are easily approved with minor safeguards put in place to ensure pipeline safety (e.g. Approved contingent on no construction activity taking place within 20’ of SCC centerline).

What is the timeframe of the permit process?

COMB will make every attempt to update you on the status of your application within two weeks of receiving a complete application packet along with deposit per the fee schedule.  Beyond that, the timeframe depends largely on the nature of the activity or project.  Where small projects may be approved/denied within the two week initial review, larger projects or those determined to pose a danger to the pipeline may take several months to thoroughly review before determination of approval is given.