Land use determinations are planning approvals granted by a decision maker for the construction, modification, or use of a project. However, a land use determination can sometimes rule against the applicant, finding that the project cannot proceed in its current form. There are two main paths along which a non-by-right project may proceed, depending on its size, scale, and conformance with the City’s local zoning rules.
Before applying for a building permit, applicants for certain projects may require some form of administrative approval to verify compliance with City regulations or guidelines. Administrative approvals are non-discretionary and can be obtained at the public counter or from a planner assigned to the project's geography. The review of administrative applications is objective and not subject to appeal.
Filing for Building Permit(s)
Once a project is granted administrative approval, the applicant may request a building permit from the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety (LADBS).
Discretionary determinations are issued for subdivision of land and projects requesting some quasi-judicial or legislative action, often an approval or a deviation or adjustment from the Zoning Code. These entitlement requests must undergo City Planning's formal review to determine if the project is appropriate and suitable for the proposed site. Discretionary approvals are often subject to appeal, in which case the decision is not considered final and effective until the appeal period has ended and all appeals have been resolved or exhausted.
Appeals contest the outcome or determination of a case in instances where the appellant believes the decision maker has erred or abused their discretion. The Letter of Determination includes instructions for filing an appeal, when applicable, and specifies how long parties have to file an appeal. Appeals may be submitted in person at the Development Services Centers (DSCs) or online through the Department’s Online Application Portal. Applications must be both accepted by City Planning and paid for by 4:30 p.m. Pacific Time on the final day to submit an appeal. In the event that the final day falls on a weekend or City holiday, the time for filing an appeal will be extended to 4:30 p.m. on the next working day. To learn more, consult the Department's Fact Sheet.
Clearing Case Conditions
After a discretionary approval has been issued and all (if any) appeals have been considered, the applicant must return to one of the City's Development Services Centers (DSCs) to demonstrate compliance with the stated conditions of approval before filing for a building permit or permits.
Filing for Building Permits
Only after all the case conditions have been cleared may the applicant proceed to LADBS to file for a building permit or permits.