Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning

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Dec 04, 2008
Last Updated:
Apr 29, 2013
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How-To, FAQ

Residential and Agricultural FAQ

For properties zoned R-1, R-A, A-1, A-2

Can I build a house on the property? Can I add onto my existing house? What must I do?

These zones allow one house (single-family residence) on a lot. To build or add onto a home:

How big can my new house or addition be?

In general, there is no maximum size provided the house or addition meets the residential development standards, unless the property is in a special district, area and plan.

There is a minimum size of 800 square feet and a minimum width of 20 feet for a single-family home. Please refer to Section 22.20.105 for various exceptions. You may request a modification of these minimum requirements through the site plan review application (download PDF or Word).

What are my setbacks? What is the maximum height? What parking is required?

In general, refer to the residential development standards and residential parking requirements, unless the property is in a special district, area and plan requirements.

What if I can’t meet the required setbacks?

A yard modification application and fee is required, unless the property is in a special district, area and plan requirements.

What is a Yard Modification?

This is a request to modify the required front, side, or rear yard setbacks due to a hardship based on lot design, size, shape or topography. It may also include a request to exceed the maximum fence or wall height in required yards. Yard modification applications are discretionary and approval is not guaranteed.

A yard modification requires submittal of a site plan review application (download PDF or Word), including burden of proof, and fee. In the burden of proof, the applicant must demonstrate that: 1) There is a topographic feature, lot design, or other condition that prevents them from complying with the required setbacks, and 2) Identify other neighboring properties that have similar reduced setbacks. All property owners within 100 feet are notified and given an opportunity to comment.

What if the building exceeds the maximum height?

A variance application (download PDF or Word) and fees are required. This is a discretionary application subject to CEQA and requiring a public hearing and there is no guarantee of approval.

What if I can’t meet the parking requirement?

To reduce the parking < 30% of what is required, a minor parking deviation application, site plan review application and fees are required. (Example: 10 parking spaces are required, 8 spaces are proposed and the reduction is for 2 spaces, or 20% of the requirement.)

To reduce the parking ≥ 30%, a parking permit and fees are required.

These are discretionary applications subject to CEQA and requiring a public hearing and there is no guarantee of approval.

Can I build more than one home? How many dwelling units are allowed?

These zones only allow one single-family residence on a lot unless:

  • A second unit is approved, or
  • A land division is approved and recorded, or
  • A zone change is adopted and conditional use permit is approved.

Can I build a Second Unit?

This summary and Part 16 of Chapter 22.52 provide information on whether and how you can build a Second Unit.

My property does not qualify for a Second Unit. What are my other options?

You may build a guest house for temporary guests or servants provided:

  • The lot size is at least 1.5X the required lot area or at least 10,000 square feet.
  • The guest house is at least 20 feet from the main residence.
  • The guest house must comply with any special district, area and plan requirements requirements and Interpretation No. 04-2008.
  • The guest house cannot be rented, sold or used as a separate dwelling, and cannot have a kitchen or any kitchen facilities (including wet bars, cooking facilities, etc.).
  • A site plan review application and fees are required.
  • Verify if a certificate of compliance and fees are required.

What accessory buildings are allowed?

The following detached accessory buildings (view table) are allowed in compliance with Interpretation No. 04-2008. A Site Plan Review application and fees are required. Please contact us for details.

Can I operate a business from my home?

Certain home-based occupations are permitted in compliance with Section 22.20.020. In addition to the businesses specified as prohibited, any unlisted ones that are inconsistent with or disruptive to a residential neighborhood are also prohibited. Site Plan Review is not required.

A maximum of one home-based occupation is permitted provided:

  • It does not change the character and/or appearance of the home.
  • It is not located in an illegally converted garage or carport.
  • It is not located in a detached accessory building.
  • No signage is permitted.
  • Products or materials for the business can not be stored on-site.
  • No mechanical equipment can be used other than light business machines such as computers, fax machines, and non-commercial/industrial copying machines.
  • No commercial vehicles, tractor trailers or heavy duty delivery trucks can be used for the delivery of products to or from the premises.
  • A maximum of one non-resident employee is permitted and one on-site standard parking space is required for the employee.
  • A maximum of one client or one vehicle visit per hour is permitted only from 8 am to 8 pm, Monday through Friday.
  • It can not create or cause noise, dust, vibration, odor, gas, fumes, smoke, glare, electrical interferences, hazards, or nuisances.
  • The home-based occupation must cease when it is a nuisance, is in violation of any regulations or is detrimental to the public health, safety and welfare.
Can I rent rooms in my house?

You can rent rooms to a maximum of four renters, unless the home is also used as a residential facility or foster family home.

Can I have pets? What kinds and how many?

You can have a maximum of 3 dogs (over 4 months old) as personal pets only. For more than 3 dogs, an animal permit and fee is required.

Other domestic pets for personal use only are allowed such as cats, birds, fish, and chickens, and there is no maximum.

Certain wild animals are regulated or prohibited. Refer to Section 22.20.040 for information.

Can I have horses?

In general, if the lot is at least 15,000 square feet in size, you can have horses (over 9 months old) as personal pets only with a ratio of one horse per 5000 square feet lot area. However, the requirements are different if the property is in the Equestrian Districts. For more details, refer to Section 22.52.300 or the Equestrian Districts.

Can I have a family child care home on the property?

For a family child care home with a maximum of 8 children that provides non-medical care and supervision for less than 24 hours a day as defined and licensed by the State of California:

For a family child care home with 9 to 14 children that provides non-medical care and supervision for less than 24 hours a day as defined and licensed by the State of California:

Can I share a water well with my neighbor?

A shared water well is one well that provides water for up to four dwelling units either located on the lot or any adjoining lots. A shared water well application is required. Refer to Section 22.56.1764 for more information.

Do you have copies of plans for my house?

Contact us to verify if we have any records. We only have files if an application was submitted to us for review and therefore, we do not have records for all properties in the County. If we do have plans and you would like copies, you must hire a licensed bonded company to make the copies. Otherwise, files cannot be removed from our office.

In addition, we do not issue building permits and therefore we do not have building permit records. You must contact the Department of Public Works Building and Safety. Building permits generally only list the type of construction and floor area. They do not keep copies of plans except those currently under review for new construction.

Are there utilities (gas, electric, water, etc.) available to serve my property?

We do not have information regarding public utilities. Please contact your local service provider for more information.

Is my property located within a Flood Zone?

For Flood Zone information, please contact the Department of Public Works.

For properties zoned R-2, R-3 and R-4 zones

How many units can I build in the R-2 zone?
  • One single-family residence.
  • A duplex (attached two-family residence) is permitted if the lot size is at least 4000 square feet and the land use category allows at least two units.
  • Two detached single-family residences are permitted if the lot size is at least 5000 square feet and the land use category allows at least two units.
  • One single-family residence and one duplex are permitted if the lot size is ≥ 7500 square feet and the land use category allows at least three units.
  • When calculating density for more than one dwelling unit, always round down for fractions.
  • For more than one dwelling unit, units can only be for rental, not for sale unless a land division is approved and recorded.
What can I build in the R-3 zone?
  • A single-family residence.
  • Two units (attached or detached) if the lot size is at 2904 square feet and the land use category allows at least two units.
  • Multiple dwelling units (attached or detached) with a maximum density established by the land use category and 30 dwelling units per net acre.
  • When calculating density for more than one dwelling unit, always round down for fractions.
  • For more than one dwelling unit, units can only be for rental, not for sale unless a land division is approved and recorded.
What can I build in the R-4 zone?
  • A single-family residence.
  • Two units (attached or detached) if the lot size is at least 1742 square feet and the land use category allows at least two units.
  • Multiple dwelling units (attached or detached) with a maximum density established by the land use category and 50 dwelling units per net acre.
  • When calculating density for more than one dwelling unit, always round down for fractions.
  • For more than one dwelling unit, units can only be for rental, not for sale unless a land division is approved and recorded.
What must I do to build on the property?
What are the residential parking requirements?
Dwelling Type Number and Type of Parking Spaces*
Single-family (including detached and attached condominiums) 2 covered (may be tandem)
Duplex 4 total: 3 covered and 1 uncovered
Apartment: studio 1 covered
Apartment: 1-bedroom 1.5 covered
Apartment: 2-bedroom + 1.5 covered and .5 covered
Apartments with 10+ units
(including condominium projects with 10+ units)
1 uncovered guest parking space per 4 units
* covered spaces may be provided by a garage or carport

When adding up the total parking spaces for apartment buildings, round up for fractional units.

In all cases, the minimum vehicular back-up space is 26 feet. For garages and carports, the back-up space is measured from the outer walls or posts.

In all cases, the minimum parking space dimensions are 8.5 feet in width by 18 feet in length.

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