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Several cities, such as Oakland and Orinda, have building setback and construction requirements near creeks. These requirements can depend on the size of the creek and whether it is perennial, intermittent, or ephemeral.
Setback can be determined from the top of bank of the stream channel. Top of bank is often not apparent in the field, but can be determined by calculating the "bank-full stage" from rainfall data, the creek watershed area, and channel geometry.