If you are reading this blog, my guess is that you know what excavation is and why it is important to the construction process. However, what you may not know is the complicated California law that governs this process. The statute for an excavation contractor to be familiar with is California Government Code section 4216, et seq. However, like most things worth pursuing, that is easier said than done. Section 4216 contains several layers of prerequisites and requirements. This article will explore the notice requirement.

Section 4216.1 requires “every operator of a subsurface installation” to share costs of a regional notification center. This is necessary because Section 4216.2(b) requires “an excavator planning to conduct an excavation shall notify the appropriate regional notification center of the excavator’s intent to excavate” before beginning that excavation. The statute lists two regional notification centers: the Underground Service Alert—Northern California and the Under Ground Service Alert—Southern California.

In practice, an excavator must contact one of the regional notification centers and initiate a ticket. While an online notification is available, picking up the telephone and calling “8-1-1” is preferred because there are quite a few limitations to giving notice online. If your excavation involves any use of explosives, you may not provide notification online. If your work is taking place at multiple addresses or the location is without any street address, you are barred from notifying online and must call 8-1-1 to provide excavation notification.

It is also important to note that excavation cannot start earlier than two full working days from the time the ticket is submitted. Tickets may not be submitted more than 14 calendar days in advance of the start of excavation. There are no exceptions. Moreover, an excavation ticket is only valid for 28 days from the date of issuance. If work continues beyond 28 days, the law requires the excavator to renew the ticket by accessing the notification center’s website or by calling 8-1-1 by the end of the 28th day. If a ticket expires but the work is ongoing, the excavator must contact the notification center and get a new ticket and wait a minimum of two working days before restarting excavation.

The notification requirement’s teeth are found in Section 4216.6(b), which outlines the punishment for an excavator that violates these requirements. The punishment, as you can guess, is fairly harsh: up to $10,000 for any negligent violations, and up to $50,000 for any intentional violations. It is important to note that other civil penalties may apply if the excavator’s violation caused personal injury and/or property damage.

Excavation has a number of important applications including exploration, environmental restoration, mining and construction. It is almost always required on a construction job. As usual, an attorney familiar with the law can help you navigate this process and stay compliant.