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GRADING

The content of this page will provide guidance through the grading approval process for subdivisions and Conditional Use Permits (CUP). Grading plan approvals for single lots are processed by the local Building and Safety District Office - for more information click here.

First Time Visitors

FAQ's

Grading is changing existing ground topography to safely support structures and / or different kinds of improvements such as utilities and roads.
To confirm that the proposed grading is in conformance with local codes and regulations before issuing the grading permit.
All grading requires an approved grading plan and a grading permit unless it falls under one of the exemption categories. Here are the exemptions:
  • Grading in an isolated, self-contained area*
  • Excavation for construction of a structure
  • Cemetery graves
  • Refuse disposal sites*
  • Mining, quarrying, excavating, processing or stockpiling rock, sand, gravel, aggregate, or clay*
  • Excavations for soils exploration. This doesn't exempt the grading of access roads or pads created for the soils exploration*
  • An excavation that is less than 50 cubic yards*
  • Fill not intended to support a structure so long as it doesn't obstruct a drainage course*
*See the Grading Code, Section J103.2 for details.
The process starts with preparing the grading plans to the satisfaction of Public Works and then submitting them with supporting documents and fees to go through the plan check review process. Once the plans and supporting documents are found satisfactory, the County issues the grading plan approval.
The grading plan approval process starts with Land Development Division, located on the 3rd floor of Public Works Headquarters.

 


GRADING PLAN APPROVAL PROCESS

Most grading operations have planning and zoning implications and, accordingly, you must obtain approval from the Department of Regional Planning for your proposed land use before you can commence grading. To learn more about the planning stage process with the County of Los Angeles Department of Regional Planning, click here.



GRADING PLAN PREPARATION


TYPICAL GRADING PLAN
Below are some tips and tools to help in preparing the grading plan.

  • Please note, engineered* grading plans can only be prepared by registered civil engineers
  • Front sheet information, provide the following:
    • General notes
    • Benchmark
    • Scaled drawings: use engineering scale (1"=40' or larger) and provide graphical scale
    • Sheet size: typical sizes are 24" x 36" and 36" x 48". Please note that this is ultimately for hard copies only but gives guidance in indexing the sheets for digital use as well.
    • Vicinity map: show the nearest major cross streets
    • Statements: add only the applicable statements to the plan
    • Title blocks for: civil engineer, geotechnical consultant, surveyor, owner / developer, etc.
  • Sample approved Grading Plan
  • Sample approved Erosion and Sediment Control Plan

*Grading in excess of 5,000 cubic yards or grading that will support a structure is designated as engineered grading.




REFERENCE MATERIALS

Below are links to useful references if you have detailed questions regarding grading.



GRADING PLAN SUBMITTAL


APPLICATION

To submit your grading plan for review, fill out the application form and upload your plans online (link below).

Submit my plans


FEES

You can pay the plan check review fees in person or online using e-check / credit card (for charges less than $500.00). After you have submitted your plans for review, a link will be generated and e-mailed to you where you can pay the fee online.

For your convenience, our fee schedule and cost and bond estimating spreadsheets are available below. Please note that the plan check fee covers up to 5 reviews of the grading plan submittal. Additional fees will be required after the 5th submittal.


PAPERLESS SUBMITTALS
We've been processing paperless plan review since 2013! Accordingly, you can submit all of your improvement plans and supporting documents online at the link provided above. To see a typical list of all supporting documents that are required for obtaining grading plan approval, here is a Grading Submittal Check List. At a minimum, we require the items listed below to begin reviewing your grading plans:

  • Grading plan
  • Plan check fee (see above)
  • Approved planning documents
  • Approved hydrology study

Resubmittals will be required to address any corrections needed on the grading plan.



GRADING PLAN REVIEW & APPROVAL


REVIEW PROCESS
For each plan submittal, a check print showing plan check comments and a corrections list will be generated and sent to the applicant who submitted the plans. These documents will address deficiencies in the plan and inform you of supporting documents that are needed in order to obtain grading plan approval. The following are links to resubmit your plans and to some documents that you should find useful during the grading plan review:

Resubmit my plans


AGENCY APPROVALS

Before your grading plan can be approved you will need to approach various jurisdictional agencies for their approval of a permit or letter stating they have no jurisdiction over your project. Below are links for some of those agencies.


GRADING PLAN APPROVAL AND GRADING PERMIT
As soon as your grading plan is approved, the grading plan checker will create an approval package for your project. The approval package will contain versions of your plans with County stamp and signature as well as all supporting documents for the grading plan. You will be notified by e-mail along with instructions about which documents from the approval package you need to take to the local Building & Safety District office / City Public Works department to apply for and obtain the grading permit. To find your local District office, please click here.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER GRADING PLAN APPROVAL?
The Grading Plan is typically the first improvement plan to get approved and the first permit to get issued. This explains why there are so many supporting documents required for it. That said, based on the scope of your project, you must continue processing improvement plans until you obtain all plan approvals and the necessary permits to finish constructing your project.

After 2 years from the date that the grading plan is approved, the approval expires. If your grading plan expires before you pull the grading permit, you'll need to submit a new grading plan with supporting documents for review and approval. If your grading plan was approved in 2014 or after, we will have all of the supporting documents stored digitally. However, some approvals by other agencies may be expired and would need to be renewed.

As construction progresses, site conditions may warrant design changes to the approved grading plans. It is the responsibility of the permittee to inform the Building Inspector and grading plan check engineer of these changes and provide revised grading plans for approval prior to proceeding with the changes. If you need to submit revised grading plans for review and approval, click below.

Submit revised plans

Finally, with an approved grading plan, you're closer to recording your final map. Most, if not all, grading clearance items for the final map are usually handled during the grading plan review process. Grading final map clearance will be issued after completing all final map requirements for grading, either with or after the grading plan approval.


CONTACT US

If you have additional questions or concerns, please contact our Grading Unit at (626) 458-4921.

To discuss your project with us in person, please make an appointment with us to meet at our public counter between the hours of 7:00 am and 5:00 pm, M-Th at the address below:

County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works
3rd Floor, Land Development Division
900 South Fremont Avenue
Alhambra, CA 91803




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