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Topographical conditions

— concerned with surface conditions, remember on the surface. 1. Grading — is the site level and flat OR hilly and sloped? 2. Vehicular access to the site — how easy is it for cars to reach the site? Do roads already lead to the site? Can construction vehicles access the site? 3. Utilities access — are utilities available at the property line or 1,000 yards away? Are there power poles blocking views or vehicular access? 4. Features of the site — are there rock outcroppings and cliffs, grassy meadows, wooded and forested areas? 5. Bodies of water — are there wetlands, lakes, streams, rivers, or ocean nearby? 6. Views — are there any significant views to the ocean, city lights, wooded areas? Think about the items included on a Topographical Map, the kind of map used for navigation and the same kind of map you might take on a hiking trip.


What the difference between topographical and geological conditions?

Topographical concerns occur on the surface, Geological concerns occur under the surface (yes, a little simplified, but it suits our purpose).


Hydrological conditions

— concerned with water and its relationship to the site. 1. Water table - high water table requires additional site drainage/storm water runoff measures, concern for appropriate foundation type, waterproofing measures. 2. Site drainage — how is water draining off of the site? Is it being contained on site via a catch basin, is it running off into the local storm water system, or running off into the local wetlands? 3. Movement of water on or through the site — how is water moving through the site? Are there places where it is ponding and collecting? Is water draining away from the building? 4. Affect foundation selection/design — the presence of water onsite can impact the type of foundation system recommended by the Geologist.


Geological conditions

— concerned with soil conditions, directly impacts foundation design, remember under the surface. 1. Type of soil affects the foundation selection and design • Expansive/clay— low bearing capacity • Bedrock — stable, high bearing capacity 2. Type of foundation based upon soil conditions • Typical footings & stem walls (stable soils, bedrock) • Mat foundation (expansive soil, high water table) • Piles and grade beams (expansive soil, high water table)


There are 5 main Climatic Conditions to be concerned with

1. Temperature 2. Humidity 3. Rainfall 4. Wind 5. Snowfall. -There is a common misconception among candidates as many believe Solar Orientation is a climatic condition. However, Solar Orientation is not a Climatic Condition, rather a Site Condition. See Wikipedia's definition of Climate. - It is also important to understand the individual climatic conditions and the concepts associated with each. Let's take a further look;



-Hot and cold, extreme temperature ranges possible in deserts and mountainous regions. It is a good idea to incorporate the following when designing for temperature concerns: -Proper insulation in walls and ceilings -Larger overhangs on southern exposure -Passive heating and cooling strategies -Properly sized mechanical equipment



-The amount of water vapor in the air. -Remember humidity is likely to be involved in any project scenario. Even in the desert environment where the humidity level is low, you may need to incorporate humidification equipment into the design to increase the humidity on the interior, especially if it's a library or museum so the contents are at the proper internal humidification level. -Moisture in the air -Excessive moisture in toilet rooms/shower rooms can lead to mold -Moisture control — exhaust fans in toilet rooms, laundry areas -Proper design of exterior details to allow materials to breathe



-Water penetration of the building envelope is always a concern and care must be taken to ensure a properly designed weather tight building. Also a concern for storm water runoff and rain water collection/distribution methods should be factored into the project scenario. -Proper slope and drainage of roof and site -Overhangs above exterior doors and windows to better protect openings -Proper flashing around door and windows -Proper flashing at all roof penetrations -Design a rain screen envelope to minimize moisture buildup in envelope -Desert environment — design for drainage to avoid flash flooding



- Wind hazards can include hurricanes, tornadoes, and other windstorms Winds generally occur from west, blowing over the Pacific Ocean, but local patterns should be studied -Note the prevailing wind patterns for the geographical area Strategic placement of operable windows, passive ventilation -Desert & mountainous environments — areas of high wind, extra care in design of overhangs to resist uplift -Southern California is prone to Santa Ana winds which usually occur in the fall and winter and originating over the hot and dry desert regions to the east of Los Angeles and blow in a westerly direction, oftentimes fanning wildfires in Southern California -We will discuss Wind in more detail in Knowledge Statement #2


What are the big 4 permits/approvals that may be required for most wetland or stream projects?

1. USACE 404 Permit- US army Corps of Engineers 2. RWQCB 401 Cert. Regional Water Quality Control Board 3. CDFG Streambed Alteration Agreement - CA Dept. of Fish and Game 4. CEQA Compliance - CA Environmental Qualit Act




-Occurs in many parts of California, including the high desert and mountainous areas of Southern California


-Concern for weight of snow on roofs as well as areas of snow drift/accumulation


-Concern for runoff from snowmelt in the spring season, especially along the foothill areas associated with mountainous regions


California Wetlands Portal

Mission Statement/About — The California Wetlands Portal provides free public access to information about wetland projects, habitats, and habitat conditions in selected regions of California. Information on projects includes location, type (mitigation or non-mitigation), size, sponsors, status and planned changes to habitat. Wetland habitats are mapped for the entire state, using the best available information on each region. 


California Wetlands Information System

Mission Statement/About — Designed to provide comprehensive wetlands information to the general public, the educational community, and governmental agencies. It is a compilation of public and private sector information, including maps, environmental documents, agency roles in wetlands management, restoration and mitigation activities, regulatory permitting, and wetland policies.


6 Factors that affect wetland health 

1. Habitat Alteration — converting wetlands to housing and farming that can easily displace or destroy wetlands.


2. Hydrological Modification —levees, dams, and other unnatural structure can directly affect the wetland area such as upstream development, diversions or additions of surface water.


3. Biological Invasion — non-native species that are inadvertently or intentionally introduced by people into a wetland can proliferate, displacing native species and altering wetlands functions and services.


4. Pollution — manufactured chemicals that are spilled, leaked or dumped and also an overabundance of nutrients, sediment, native vegetation, additional water can disrupt the fragile ecosystem.


5. Overharvesting— native plant and fish species.


6. Climate Change — changes in annual rainfall amounts and temperature. 7



From the "California Wetlands" website;


-Wetlands have aquatic and terrestrial characteristics.


-They form wherever the land gets too wet for upland vegetation and standing water is not too deep for wetland vegetation.


-They form along the shallow margins of lakes, estuaries, and rivers, and in upland areas with high groundwater or shallow surface water, such as springs, seeps, wet meadows, and ponds.

-Wetlands are found in every region of California.


-They vary widely in form, function and human services because of regional and local differences in soils, topography, climate, hydrology, geology and other factors, including human disturbance.


5 State Agencies that may be involved in the wetland approval process 



(we will cover them in more detail in Categories IIA and 11B)


1. Department of Fish and Game


2. California Environmental Protection Agency


3. State Water Resources Control Board


4.California Coastal Commission (wetlands in the coastal zone only)


5. State Lands Commission (wetlands on State owned properties)


When is the California Coastal Commision interested in a wetlands project?

The California Coastal Commission will only be interested if the project is located in a wetlands located in the costal zone (wetlands in the coastal zone only) 


4 Federal Agencies that may be involved in the wetland approval process 

(we will cover them in more detail in Categories IIA and 11B)


1. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service


2. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (moving or placing materials such as dirt, rock, concrete, or culverts)


3. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


4. National Resources Conservation Service (relating to agriculture and wetlands restoration)


The Big Four — Many wetland or stream projects will require four main permits or approvals USACE 

1. 404 Permit — U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Section 404 of the Federal Clean Water Act is the primary federal program regulating activities in wetlands.


2. RWQCB 401 Certification - Regional Water Quality Control Board, Section 401 of the Federal Clean Water Act specifies that states must certify any activity subject to a permit issued by a federal agency, such as the USACE, meets all state water quality standards. In California, the State and regional water boards are responsible for certification activities subject to USACE Section 404 Permits. 8


3. CDFG Streambed Alteration Agreement — California Department of Fish and Game, regulates activities that would alter the flow, bed, banks, channel, or associated riparian (zone between land and a river or stream) areas of a river, stream, or lake.


4. CEQA Compliance — California Environmental Quality Act, the goal of CEQA is to maintain a high-quality environment by requiring that public agencies identify, avoid, and mitigate the significant environmental effects on projects where feasible. h. Wetlands Project Permitting Guide Be sure to download and review Wetlands Proiect Permitting Guide published by the County of Ventura Planning Division Be sure to download the




Wetland Proiect Permitting Guide published by the County of Ventura Planning Division. It's an amazing document to further explain the permitting process for wetlands, particularly the following pages

1. Page 12 — Illustration depicting the jurisdiction for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and California Department of Fish and Game


2. Page 26 — The Big Four and the following pages describing the permitting/review process of the Big Four


The California Coastal Zone generally extends...

 ...1,000 yards inland from the mean high tide line.


- In significant coastal estuarine habitat and recreational areas it extends inland to the first major ridgeline or five miles from the mean high tide line, whichever is less.


-In developed urban areas, the boundary is generally less than 1,000 yards. - Excerpt from NOAA website.


The Coastal Zone for the San Francisco Bav Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) includes 

the open water, marshes and mudflats of greater San Francisco Bay, and areas 100 feet inland from the line of highest tidal action.


-The boundary also includes: the Suisun marsh and buffer zone: managed wetlands diked off from the Bay; and open waters diked off from the Bay and used in salt production. Excerpt from NOAA website. 


Three major Coastal Areas 

1. Northern Coast —the coast north of San Francisco

• most rainfall of the three coasts, humidity


2. Central Coast — the coast from San Francisco and south of Santa Barbara

• moderate amount of rainfall


3. Southern Coast — the coast from Los Angeles to San Diego temperate climate often referred to as Mediterranean Climate

• rainy season December to March/April 


4 State Agencies that may be involved in the coastal review process

 (we will cover them in more detail in Categories IIA and 11B)


1. Department of Fish and Game


2. California Environmental Protection Agency


3. State Water Resources Control Board


4. California Coastal Commission (Coastal Zone)


4 Federal Agencies that may be involved in the coastal review process 

(we will cover them in more detail in Categories IIA and 11B)


1. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service


2. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (projects along the shoreline, marinas, harbors, ports)


3. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


4. U.S. Coast Guard (Marine Environmental Protection)


What is the difference between flora and fauna.


Flora is plant life such as plants, trees, vegetation and shrubs and


Fauna is animal life.


Applicable Regulations that involve habitats of endangered species

1. California Endangered Species Act


2. Federal Endangered Species Act


3. California Environmental Qualitv Act 


True or false


As licensed professionals architects are expected to hire a biologist and botanist to verify the precense of endangered animal or plant life?

True DUH


Architects are expected to be aware of endangered species — hire a biologist or botanist to help identify species of flora and fauna on the site 


Ways to mitigate or limit disturbance to flora and fauna 

-Designate no disturbance zones


-Re-plant disturbed area to another area of site


-Minimize disturbance to natural water supply on site


-Minimize night site lighting to not disturb fauna


-Maintain wildlife/use corridors through the site 


2 State Agencies that may be involved in the habitats of endangered species review process 

(we will cover them in more detail in Categories IIA and 11B)


1. Department of Fish and Game


2. California Environmental Protection Agency