Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Firstly: Does one need a permit to cut steps into a slope on one's property, i.e. with RR ties and gravel fill, in order to more easily access nearby hiking trails?

Secondly: Do steps like these have to remain within the 10,000 sq. ft. 'building footprint' as possibly required by this part of the county?

The County of Los Angeles Building Code does not require a grading permit under the following conditions:

An excavation that (1) is less than 2 feet (610 mm) in depth or (2) does not create a cut slope greater than 5 feet (1524 mm) in height and steeper than 1 unit vertical in 2 units horizontal (50% slope) and does not exceed 50 cubic yards (38.3M3).

A fill not intended to support structures and which does not obstruct a drainage course if such fill (a) is placed on natural grade that has a slope not steeper than five horizontal to one vertical and is less than 1 foot (305 mm) deep, or (b) is less than 3 feet (914 mm) in depth at its deepest point, measured vertically upward from natural grade to the surface of the fill, and does not exceed 50 cubic yards (38.2 m3), or (c) does not exceed 20 cubic yards (15.3 m3)on any one lot.

Without knowing the extent of the proposed stairs and topography, it is very difficult to determine if a permit is required. Prior to construction it is recommended you contact the local Building and Safety Office and discuss your project in more detail with the Regional Drainage and Grading Engineer.

In addition to a grading permit other requirements by other agencies may be applicable; these include Zoning, Fish & Game, and Coastal. Information on the other Agencies which may regulate the construction of the stairs, is also available at the Building and Safety District Office.

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