Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning

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Dec 02, 2008
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May 06, 2015
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How-To, FAQ

Land Division FAQ

Can I subdivide my property?

Subdivisions are reviewed by five County agencies. These agencies include:

Due to the complexity of subdivisions and the Departments involved, we recommend you first schedule a One-stop appointment to receive multi-agency preliminary counseling.

We are only able to provide general information regarding our Department’s requirements.

For residential projects:

The first step is to check and see if your property will have legal access. No subdivision application will be accepted without proof of legal access. The second step in the process should be to check with the Regional Planning Department for the maximum number of allowable lots. Density is calculated based on a combination of requirements including, but not limited to, General/Local Plan land use designations, zoning, Community Standards District (CSD), hillside management areas (which require a slope density analysis prepared by an engineer), and parking. You can check the land use category and zoning of the property with GIS-NET3.

What is One-Stop?

One-Stop is a preliminary counseling appointment where subdivision information is provided by three Departments: Department of Regional Planning, Department of Public Works and Fire Department. One-stop is advisory only and does not guarantee subdivision approval.

To schedule an appointment:

  1. Complete the One-Stop Counseling application
  2. Submit the application and fee. The fee may be applied toward the subdivision application if filed within one year.
  3. You will be scheduled for the next available appointment.
How many units can I get if I subdivide?

The number of units that a lot or lots can be subdivided into depends on the zoning regulations for the lot(s) you wish to subdivide. Density is calculated based on a combination of requirements including, but not limited to, General/Local Plan land use designations, zoning, Community Standards District (CSD), hillside management areas (which require a slope density analysis prepared by an engineer). There may be other limitations to the number of units you can fit on the property, including driveway access, setbacks, and parking. You may obtain zoning information for properties from our interactive GIS web mapping applications. Once you obtain the zoning designation of a property, you may then search for the specific development requirements listed under Title 22 of the Zoning Code. If you need general assistance calculating the density, please contact the Regional Planning Department at (213) 974-6411 or by email at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

How do I apply for a subdivision?

Once you have determined that your subdivision proposal complies with all the development requirements of the Regional Planning Department, Public Works, Fire Department, Parks and Recreation and Public Health, you will need to prepare a subdivision package consisting of the items listed in the Subdivision Checklist. When you have all the items listed in the checklist, please call (213) 974-6438 to schedule an appointment to submit your application to the Regional Planning Department located at 320 West Temple Street, Room 1360, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Please make sure you come early on the day of your appointment to ensure Regional Planning Staff has enough time to check your application for completeness and processing.

What is a Parcel Map?

A Parcel Map is generally the subdivision of a lot or lots into a cumulative maximum of four (4) lots or units, or less. A Parcel Map is processed for cases when each parcel created by the subdivision contains at least forty acres or each parcel contains at least twenty acres and have approved access to a maintained public street or highway; and reversions to acreage or mergers. If more than four cumulative lots or units will be created as a result of the application, then the submittal shall be considered a Tract Map application. A commercial or industrial project may create more than four lots or units under a Parcel Map, but will be considered a Major Land Division for purposes of filing fees.

What is a Tract Map?

A Tract Map is the subdivision of a lot or lots into a cumulative of five lots or units, or more.

Can I convert my apartment building to condominiums?

An existing apartment that was legally established through a valid building permit may apply for a condominium conversions (PDF or Word). If the existing apartment does not meet the minimum development standards for condominiums, a Non Conforming Review application and fee may be required, in addition to the Subdivision application and fees. Please note, the submittal of a condominium conversion application does not guarantee approval. All subdivision applications are discretionary reviews that go before a public hearing, at which time the public will have an opportunity to comment on the project. A condominium conversion will also be required to comply with State requirements for noticing tenants, including 60 days before even filing an application with the County.

If my neighbor is interested in buying a portion of my property to combine with their lot, or if I want to adjust the size/shape and the lot boundary of the adjacent/contiguous lots I own, what is the correct procedure?

You can apply for a Lot Line Adjustment to adjust the lot lines of no more than four lots per application, if the lots are either legally subdivided or a Certificate of Compliance is recorded for each lot involved. For more information on Certificate of Compliance, please refer to the “Questions & Answers About Illegal Parcels in Unincorporated Los Angeles County” handout, which can be found in the CofC download packet. Also, state law requires that a registered civil engineer or licensed land surveyor prepare the Lot Line Adjustment Map. For more information and current filing fees, please contact the Regional Planning Department at (213) 974-6411.

What policies, rules and regulations apply to a subdivision?

Subdivisions are subject to State and County statutes, including Subdivision Map Act (Section 66410 of the California Government Code), the policies of the Los Angeles County General Plan as well any applicable area or community plans, and Los Angeles County Code (including Subdivision and Zoning Ordinances).

What other land use entitlements may be required along with a subdivision?

Other land use entitlements (or “permits”) that may be required with a subdivision include a Conditional Use Permit for proposals such as development within a Hillside Management area or Significant Ecological Area, Oak Tree Permit to remove or encroach into the protected zone of Oak trees, Housing Permit for affordable and/or senior housing with a density bonus and other potential incentives, Zone Change to change the zoning classification, and Plan Amendment to change the Plan land use category.

Who reviews a subdivision application?

The subdivision application, after initially reviewed for completeness by the intake planner at Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning (“Regional Planning”) Land Development Coordinating Center (Front Counter), is reviewed by the Los Angeles County Subdivision Committee comprised of the Departments of Regional Planning (Land Divisions or Special Projects Section), Public Works (Land Development Division, Geology and Materials Engineering Division, and Traffic and Lighting Division as applicable); Fire (Land Development Unit, Planning Section, and Forester and Fire Warden as applicable); Parks and Recreation (Parks Planning and Trails), and Public Health (Environmental Protection Division composed of Land Use, Drinking Water and Environmental Hygiene Programs as applicable).

Who is the Subdivision Committee?

A body established by the Board of Supervisors to review all subdivision proposals, and provide recommendations and conditions to the Advisory Agency. Committee members represent the Departments of Regional Planning, Public Works, Fire Department, Parks and Recreation, and Public Health. Regional Planning serves as chair of the Subdivision Committee.

What is a Subdivision Committee Meeting (SCM)?

A weekly meeting convened to discuss the details of a tentative map or other subdivision application submitted by the subdivider to the County for review. Along with the Subdivision Committee, SCM is attended by the subdivider (or the subdivider’s representative). Meetings are open to the public.

Who approves a subdivision?

Subdivisions may be approved by a Hearing Officer or Regional Planning Commission (“RPC”). In certain cases, including where subdivisions have an entitlement requiring legislative action, the subdivision may be considered and approved by the Board of Supervisors (“Board”).

How long does it take to have a subdivision approved?

Each proposed subdivision has its individual issues and challenges in processing. A minor subdivision can take one year, and a major subdivision can take 18+ months for tentative map approval.

When does a subdivision approval expire?

Once a tentative map is approved, it is automatically given two years to record. At that time, if the final map has not recorded and the subdivider does not timely request a time extension, the subdivision approval would expire. The subdivider can, however, individually request up to six one-year time extensions. Certain larger subdivisions with phases can also be granted up to eight years, if certain offsite improvements are required.

Is there a time limit for a subdivision application while in processing?

Yes. After a Subdivision Committee Meeting, subdividers are asked to sign a time extension form granting a one-year time extension. If the subdivider does not resubmit for review or is not cleared for public hearing, and does not submit a written request for an additional time extension within the one-year timeframe, their subdivision application may be denied due to inactivity.

Can approved subdivision maps be changed and/or can specific project features and/or conditions be added, eliminated or modified?

Yes. There are several different processes for modifying approved subdivision maps depending on what stage the changes are proposed. The fees and complexity of these processes vary with the significance of the proposed change. Insignificant typographical changes can be completed without a public hearing, but major changes to the approved tentative map could not be completed without a full public hearing.

What is the difference between a tentative map and a final map or recorded map?

A Tentative Map is a map made for the purpose of showing the design and improvements of a proposed subdivision and the existing conditions in and around it. A Tentative Map depicts the proposed division of land and provides additional information, project notes, grading amounts, proposed ownership and maintenance, existing vegetation, drainage patterns, etc. A Final Map is the map that establishes the new legal lot lines, and recorded at the Los Angeles County Recorder’s (“Recorder’s”) office. A Final Map depicts dedications, owner’s statement, survey points and meets and bounds depiction of new lots and easements. Once a Tentative Map is approved, the Final Map must be submitted and recorded before the Tentative Map expires. Unlike Tentative Maps where Regional Planning is the lead agency, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works (“Public Works”) is the lead agency for all Final Maps. Final Maps must show that the conditions of the Tentative Map approval have been satisfied or guarantee that they will be satisfied through agreement, bond, letter of credit, or other verification. All required notes and easements must be depicted on the Final Map, and there is no discretion to reject the Final Map, if all conditions are met. A Recorded Map is an approved Final Map that has been recorded at the Los Angeles County Recorder’s (“County Recorder’s”) office.

Who attends the Subdivision Committee Meeting, and how long are the meetings?

Subdivision Committee Meetings (SCM) are attended and chaired by Regional Planning, and are also attended by representatives from Public Works, Fire, Parks and Recreation, and Public Health. These meetings can last anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours, based on the number of cases and the scope of each case.

Where can records of a previous public hearing be found/reviewed?

Records of Hearing Officer and RPC hearings can be found within the case files for the individual project and staff of that body. Regional Planning is the custodian of the case files. These records can be reviewed at Regional Planning’s main office, 13th Floor, 320 West Temple Street, Los Angeles, California, 90012, by appointment (213-974-6433) during Regional Planning’s business hours. Records of the Board can be found with the Executive Office of the Board, and can be reviewed at the Executive Office, 3rd Floor, 500 West Temple Street, Los Angeles, California, 90012. Records of recent Hearing Officer and RPC public hearings may be available on the Regional Planning Website, and for Board hearings through the Executive Office of the Board of Supervisors and on the Board’s Website.

After a subdivision is approved, when does construction begin?

Construction may not begin on a subdivision until 1) the Final Map or Parcel Map Waiver has been approved and recorded in the Recorder’s office, 2) a site plan for development on a particular lot has been approved by Regional Planning, and 3) appropriate permits, including building permit, has been issued by Public Works’ Building and Safety Division.

Who checks the project during/after construction to ensure it is built correctly and not harming the environment?

For projects which received a Mitigated Negative Declaration or an Environmental Impact Report as the environmental determination, the subdivider is required to file periodic reports verifying compliance with the Mitigation Monitoring Program (“MMP”). Regional Planning staff may also visit the project site to verify compliance with the MMP.

Why are the filing fees paid to Regional Planning so high?

The fees collected by Regional Planning are for services provided by the Subdivision Committee Departments, which includes Public Works, Fire, Parks and Recreation, and Public Health. Only a small portion of the filing fee is deposited into a draw-down account with Regional Planning, to cover actual planning costs.

Why do I have to pay a supplemental deposit?

For tentative map processing, a draw-down account is established with Regional Planning from which actual planning costs are billed and deducted. When the account reaches within 20 percent of the original deposit, a supplemental deposit is requested to ensure the account maintains sufficient funds. If a supplemental deposit is not received within 30 days or the account balance falls negative, a Stop Work Order is issued and no work can be done on the case until the account is brought up to date. Because the initial deposit is intended to cover processing the map through Subdivision Committee, often additional deposits are required to prepare the case for public hearing.

When can a case be scheduled for public hearing?

All holds must be cleared through the Subdivision Committee on the same tentative map (and Exhibit/Exhibit “A” map if applicable). The environmental document must also be completed, and all public hearing materials (including mailing labels, ownership and land use radius maps) must be updated and valid. The draw-down account must also have sufficient funds for the public hearing process.

What is a Tentative Map?

A map that depicts the design of the proposed subdivision lots, including associated easements; street cross-sections; existing drainage patterns; topography; and standard notes including scope of project, water and sewage method, and utilities. It is submitted during first stage of the map review process, which includes review by the County Departments during the Subdivision Committee Meeting. Once a Tentative Map is approved at a public hearing, the subdivision enters the final map stage.

What is an Amendment Map?

A discretionary process by which a minor change may be made to an approved tentative map. The amendment map process requires an application, fee, review by the Subdivision Committee, and approval by the advisory agency. The amendment map is usually considered by the Hearing Officer as a discussion/possible action item, and typically involves technical changes to improvements or features shown on the tentative map.

What is a Revised Map?

A major change to an approved Tentative Map. Revised Maps must be reviewed by the Subdivision Committee and then presented at a Public Hearing before being acted upon by a decision-making body. A Revised Map is considered a new map, and the time expiration date resets once a Revised Map is approved.

What is an Exhibit Map?

A map, which accompanies a tentative map, that depicts some feature or features of the proposed development which need to be considered in the subdivision review process, but would not be depicted on the Tentative Map. Exhibit maps are required for all condominium, commercial and/or industrial projects to depict the footprints of the proposed buildings, as well as driveway system/access, parking, walls/fences, loading areas, etc.

What is an Exhibit “A”?

A site plan for a CUP which depicts the area and dimensions of a proposed site for the requested use, and the location and dimensions of all structures, yards, walls, fences, parking and loading facilities, landscaping, and other development features relating to the requested use.

What is a Revised Exhibit “A”?

An exhibit that usually consists of a detailed site plan. This plan updates and is in substantial conformance with an Exhibit “A” that was approved in conjunction with a CUP.

What is a Final Map?

A map that depicts the new lot lines, including survey information, owners statement, dedications, notes, etc. The Final Map must conform to the approved tentative map, and cleared by Subdivision Committee. All Final Maps are filed with the County Recorder. Tract maps require approval by the Board of Supervisors before recordation.

What is a Modification to a Recorded Map?

A process by which certain changes may be made to the conditions or recorded map when physical problems associated with the development of site or technical difficulties occur after recordation (for example, restricted use area boundaries need to be adjusted based on further survey).

What is referred to by a “Revision Received”?

An updated or corrected tentative map that has been resubmitted for Subdivision Committee review. Filing fees are based on the revision number, and Departments review and provide holds or recommended conditions on the same Tentative Map, identified by map date.

What is a Conditional Use Permit (CUP)?

A permit authorizing a use which, because of characteristics peculiar to it, requires special consideration relative to placement and design at specific locations in the zone to ensure proper integration with other existing or permitted uses in the same zone. A CUP takes into account the characteristics of the individual site and location within the zone where proposed. The approved conditions run with the land. A CUP does not rezone the land. In Los Angeles County, CUPs generally require a public hearing; however, minor CUPs are approved by the Director of Planning without a public hearing.

What is the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)?

A state law that requires state and local government to consider the potential environmental effects of a project before a decision is made. CEQA's purpose is to disclose the potential impacts of a project, suggest methods to minimize those impacts, and discuss project alternatives so that decision-makers will have full information upon which to base their decision. CEQA also provides for review of environmental documents by government agencies and the public in order to provide a thorough and transparent environmental review process.

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Department of Regional Planning
320 West Temple Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
T: (213) 974-6411 . F: (213) 626-0434
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