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B-48 2020-Current: Vineyard, Cannabis, and Agricultural Structures

The purpose of this technical bulletin is to clarify various occupancy group classifications and application of code requirements to structures associated with horticulture, livestock, or poultry uses.

Horticultural uses of parcels and structures are uses associated with the growing of crops, vegetables, trees, fruits, etc…

Livestock and poultry uses pertain to structures and parcels associated with the raising and welfare (for commercial or pleasure) of cattle, sheep, horses, swine, chickens, turkeys, goats, etc….

Not all structures associated with these types of uses qualify as agricultural structures or U occupancies. This bulletin is intended to clarify the uses associated with each occupancy group for structures typically proposed on residential and non-residential parcels within Sonoma County.

Version: 09/24/2021

Go Back: 2020 to Current Bulletins

Technical Details

Occupancy Groups

The classification of agricultural structures as Group U occupancy is limited to structures designed and constructed to house farm implements, hay, grain, poultry, livestock, or other horticultural products. This structure shall not be a place of human habitation or a place of employment where agricultural products are processed, treated, or packaged, nor shall it be a place used by the public.

For projects which are not classified as Group U occupancy or do not adhere to conventional construction provisions as outlined in the California Residential Code and California Business Code, a registered design professional (i.e. California licensed engineer or architect) shall be in responsible charge of the scope of work. The structure shall be classified dependent on the specific use of the structure, including the material being stored, processed, treated, or packaged. 

If a structure or room or space is used for multiple purposes at different times, i.e. an agricultural barn that also serves as a wedding venue, the structure may have multiple occupancy classifications and all code requirements for all occupancy group classifications shall be adhered to.

Structures with multiple uses and occupancy groups, e.g. a tasting room with winery production, shall adhere to the requirements of all occupancy groups within the structure, and adequate fire separations shall be provided between occupancy groups, as required.

Spaces identified for storage use shall identify specifically what is being planned to be stored in each room or space and also what the material is being stored in or on, in order to accurately classify the structure.

The following is a summary of uses and occupancy group classifications for structures typically proposed to serve agricultural parcels.

Group U:
Limited to structures designed and constructed to house farm implements, hay, grain, poultry, livestock, or other horticultural products. This structure shall not be a place of human habitation or a place of employment where agricultural products are processed, treated, or packaged, nor shall it be a place used by the public.

Group S-2:
Low hazard storage, shall be used for storage of noncombustible materials on wood pallets, in paper cartons, or in paper wrappings. Products and wrappings shall have only negligible amounts of plastic trim. Storage of beverages up to and including 16-percent alcohol content (in metal, glass, or ceramic containers), dairy products (in non-waxed paper containers), fresh fruits and vegetables in non-plastic containers, frozen foods, meats, and parking garages are typical examples of Group S-2 Occupancy structures.

Group S-1:
Moderate hazard storage, is used for storage of products not classified as Group S-2 Occupancy or High-Hazard Group H, nor classified as Factory Industrial Group F. Typical examples of Group S-1 occupancy group structures include, but are not limited to, storage of bamboo, grains, leather, lumber, and sugar.

Group F-2:
Low hazard factory industrial, shall classify structures that involve storage, fabrication, or manufacturing of noncombustible materials that do not pose a significant fire hazard. Common uses associated with Group F-2 occupancies include, but are not limited to, beverages up to and including 16-percent alcohol content (in containers not meeting Group S-2 limitations), ceramic products, and glass products.

Group F-1:
Moderate hazard factory industrial, shall involve factory industrial uses not meeting Group F-2 limitations. These shall include bakeries, beverages over 16-percent alcohol content, canvas and fabric, clothing, agricultural machinery, food processing establishments, hemp and cannabis products, paper mills and products, textiles, tobacco, and woodworking.

Group H:
High hazard, includes, among others, the use of a building or structure, or a portion thereof, that involves the manufacturing, processing, generation, or storage of materials that constitute a physical or health hazards in quantities in excess of those allowed in control areas complying with CBC Section 414.

Minimum Plumbing Facilities

All occupancies shall be provided with plumbing facilities in accordance with the California Plumbing Code.  Each building or structure shall be provided with toilet facilities for employees and customers.  The travel distance to required toilet facilities shall not exceed 500 feet.

Accessible Routes and Elements

All employee work areas shall be on an accessible route. An accessible route shall connect all accessible buildings and elements within a facility. If the only means of access between structures is a vehicular way not providing pedestrian access, each accessible building or facility not connected with an accessible route shall be provided with an accessible parking stall and loading zone and route of travel from this arrival point to the accessible entrance of the structure.

Structures that are strictly animal containment areas and not for public use shall not be required to comply with accessibility requirements nor be on an accessible route. Common use circulation paths within employee work areas that are completely exposed to the weather shall not be required to comply with accessible route requirements of CBC Section 11B-402.

Where toilet and bathing rooms are provided, each shall comply with the applicable requirements of CBC Section 11B-603.  Where multiple single-user toilet rooms are clustered at a single location, 50 percent, of the single user toilet rooms at each cluster shall comply with CBC Section 11B-603.