Grading & Site Standards

In recent years residential building activity on Sitka has moved to steeper, less well drained, and in general, more difficult terrain. Combine difficult terrain with small lots in large subdivisions, and site development requires more careful attention by both builders and the Sitka Building Department.

The Building Code, as adopted by the City and Borough of Sitka, has requirements for site development in addition to the familiar structural and fire safety standards.

Site development standards are important to the community because they provide for:

  • structural integrity of fills to prevent collapse or movement from loads like houses, driveway traffic, or water saturation
  • structural integrity of excavations and cutbanks to prevent collapse or movement from loads or water saturation
  • drainage and erosion control, not only on the property where work takes place but also on adjacent properties and streets.

Some of the code requirements are:


Cut slopes shall be set back from site boundaries not less than one fifth of the height of the cut slope with a minimum of 2 feet.

Fill slopes shall be set back from site boundaries not less than one half the height of the slope with a minimum of 2 feet.


The slope of the cut shall be no steeper than is safe for the intended purpose.


Fill slopes shall be no steeper than 1 unit vertical in 2 units horizontal. Shot rock slopes may be 1V in 1.5H.


Oversight of excavation and grading standards is through either a building permit, a foundation permit, or a grading permit. A permit must be obtained before site development work can start. The Building Department needs the following information on a plot plan:

  • locations and height of cutbanks greater than 2 feet
  • locations where fill greater than 1 foot is to be deposited
  • locations where retaining structures (rock or concrete walls) are to be created and construction details for each structure
  • any changes to the natural drainage pattern and measures such as ditches or culverts which will be used to control drainage
  • driveway and culvert locations


If work begins without a permit, the violator may be subject to citation, a doubling of the permit fee, or be required to restore the site to its pre-work condition.

Please keep in mind that this article is not a substitute for the exact language of the code itself, and that questions of interpretation are decided by the Building Official, not the site developer. Download UBC Appendix Chapter 33 - Excavation and Grading.