Frequently Asked Questions - Excavation U Permits

Revised on 07-28-2020

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Who can apply for an Excavation “U” Permit?

The U-Permit is issued to entities with the authority to occupy the public right-of-way, which is typically given under a City or State Franchise Agreement, a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the State Public Utilities Commission, or some other legal authority. In general, U-Permits are issued to utility companies for construction activities on their utility facilities.

Do other governmental agencies (local, state or federal) need to have a Franchise Agreement with the City of LA prior to applying for an Excavation "U" Permit?

No, they do not need a franchise agreement.

How long is an Excavation "U" Permit good for?

The U-Permit is good for six months. If a permittee does not started construction within these six months, the permit will expire.

When do I need an Excavation "U” permit?

Construction projects which will require trenching or excavation within the public right-of-way must obtain a permit at the appropriate District Office. Electrolier and pull box relocation, monitoring well installation, soil borings, and pothole drilling in the public right-of-way will also require a U-Permit. 

How long does it take to get an Excavation "U" Permit?

It depends on the complexity of the construction work, the size of excavation work, the ability of the applicant to comply with City Standards, the quality of construction drawings, and the workload of City Staff. In general, the process may take as little as 2 weeks and up to 3 months to complete.

When does an Excavation "U" Permit expire?

Six months from the date of issuance unless construction has commenced.

How will the City determine if a project is being performed diligently?

The Bureau of Contract Administration (BCA) and the City Engineer will make periodic site visits to make this determination.

Does the City grant Excavation "U" Permit extensions?

No extensions of time for commencement of work beyond the 6-month period will be granted.

If my Excavation "U" Permit is expired, is a new application required?

Yes, a new application is required for a new U-Permit to be issued. No construction activity is allowed under an expired permit.

What is subject to the Street Damage Restoration Fee (SDRF)?

The SDRF is applicable to any excavation work on asphalt concrete streets subject to a permit such as an A-Permit, B-Permit, E-Permit, U-Permit and S-Permit. The SDRF will not apply to the removal and replacement of curb, gutter, parkway, sidewalk and/or driveway. The District Office can be consulted for further clarification.

What is the new Street Damage Restoration Fee (SDRF)?

The SDRF is set at $8.24 per square foot for Local Streets and $19.44 per square foot for Select Streets. It applies to an area that equals the length and width of the excavation cut plus 5 feet on all sides of the excavation. The 5-foot extension area for a cut in asphalt is applicable even if it extends into gutter, curb, sidewalk and/or parkway, due to the fee assessment option adopted by City Council. Excavation cuts in the parkway that are within 5 feet of a street section will not pay an SDRF for the 5-foot extension area.

Will the Street Damage Restoration Fee (SDRF) be applicable to Excavation "U" Permits? 

Yes. Whenever an excavation is made in the street, SDRF will apply. This would be applicable to most excavations involving U-Permits. The District Office can be consulted for further clarification.

When is the current Street Damage Restoration Fee (SDRF) effective? 

The current SDRF became effective December 6, 2018.

What are the limits of the street to which Street Damage Restoration Fee (SDRF) applies?

The SDRF applies to the limits of excavation cuts on an asphalt concrete street extending to the edges (typically at gutter edges).

What is a Select Street?

In terms of the new Street Damage Restoration Fee, a Select Street is a street designated by the Bureau of Street Services as a street requiring a thicker pavement design to accommodate greater traffic loads. The Bureau of Street Services shall maintain a public record of its street designations. This street designation is visible via NavigateLA’s Street Centerlines Report, listed under Class as SE.

What is a Local Street?

In terms of the new Street Damage Restoration Fee, a Local Street shall be a street not designated as a Select Street. The Bureau of Street Services shall maintain a public record of its street designations. This street designation is visible via NavigateLA’s Street Centerlines Report, listed under Class as LO.

Does the age of the street affect the Street Damage Restoration Fee (SDRF)?

No, the current SDRF is not relative to the age of the street.

Does the Street Damage Restoration Fee (SDRF) apply to excavation work on a concrete street?

Full slab replacement is required in lieu of paying the SDRF for any excavation on a concrete street. A slab may be defined as the area of concrete surrounded by a joint (i.e. construction/expansion joint, etc.). In the event a concrete street does not consist of slabs but a large(r) concrete panel, the District Office can be consulted for further clarification.

Are there any exemptions from payment of the Street Damage Restoration Fee (SDRF)?

Yes, there are two exemptions to the SDRF:

  1. Any excavation in a street scheduled for resurfacing under the City’s Annual Street Renewal Plan within the one year prior to the scheduled resurfacing is exempt from the SDRF.
  2. Exemption for excavation made up to 23 months prior to scheduled resurfacing may be granted after further consideration. The following must be provided at the time of request for consideration:
    1. Complete review of the City’s Five-Year Street Renewal Plan and one-year Annual Street Renewal Plan prepared by the Director of the Bureau of Street Services (BSS) prior to applying for an excavation permit
    2. Prepare and submit to the BSS a five-year street excavation plan and a one-year street excavation plan, in a form acceptable to BSS, prior to applying for an excavation permit. Such plans must include the following:
      1. The location of the applicant’s existing facilities in any City street, alley, sidewalk or other public place; and,
      2. A description of all of the applicant’s planned excavation work in any City street, alley, sidewalk or other public place.
    3. To continue to qualify for the SDRF exemption:
      1. Submit annually, by April 15 of each year following the submission of the initial five-year street excavation plan and one-year street excavation plan, a revised and updated five-year street excavation plan and one-year street excavation plan; and,
      2. All excavations in any Local Street or any Select Street must be shown on the applicant’s one-year street excavation plan, and must take place within 23 months prior to City’s planned resurfacing or rehabilitation projects as shown in the City’s Five-Year Street Renewal Plan and one-year Annual Street Renewal Plan.

Can I excavate anytime within one year following the resurfacing of the street? 

Yes. However, in lieu of paying the SDRF, permittee must repave the entire street block from curb face to curb face (typically referred to as the One-Year Street Moratorium).

Are there any exceptions to the One-Year Street Moratorium?

Yes, there are two exemptions to the One-Year Street Moratorium:

  1. Exceptions may be made when it can be sufficiently demonstrated to the Director of the Bureau of Street Services (BSS) that the City’s 30-day notice of a scheduled street resurfacing project was not mailed to the correct property owner of record at the time of notification, and the property owner made significant efforts to promptly notify BSS of any planned street excavations. 
  2. Exceptions may be made on Emergency Work. Emergency Work is defined under LAMC 62.61 as immediate and unplanned action that must be taken to alleviate a hazardous condition, which represents an immediate threat to life, health, safety, or property. This includes continuous efforts to effect the restoration of interrupted utility services (electrical, water, gas, wastewater and telecommunications). Bureau of Engineering’s Special Order No. 06-0807, Step 4, prescribes the requirements on Street Damage Restoration Fee and right-of-way restoration for Emergency Work during the One-Year Street Moratorium.

Will the Street Damage Restoration Fee (SDRF) be increased or decreased in the future?

The Board of Public Works (Board) will calculate an adjusted the SDRF annually on July 1, in accordance with the California Department of Transportation Price Index for Selected Highway Construction Items. The proposed revised SDRF is effective upon its adoption by resolution approved by the Board following a public hearing.

Do I have to pay a Slurry Seal Damage Restoration Fee (SSDRF)?

The SSDRF was discontinued on December 6, 2018.

What is the transition policy for existing applications? Do the new fees apply to an application that has been submitted but permit is not yet issued?

As of December 6, 2018, the new SDRF calculator (based on Ordinance No.185818) has been made available online. Before December 6, 2018, the old calculator (based on a previously effective ordinance) had been online, but has since been discontinued. Staff will continue to calculate the SDRF under normal business hours using the calculator available at the time of review. If an application was submitted before December 6, 2018 and the SDRF had been calculated before (uploaded as an attachment with documentation to the project files), the SDRF will be grandfathered in through March 31, 2019. If the application was submitted before December 6, 2018 and the SDRF had not been calculated (uploaded as an attachment with documentation to the project files), the new SDRF calculator shall apply. For exceptions granted on a case-by-case basis prior to December 6, 2018, please consult with the District Office for further clarification. Calculation of the SDRF will be based off current rates for all U-Permit applications that had not been issued by March 31, 2019, notwithstanding prior exemptions.

When is the Street Damage Restoration Fee (SDRF) collected?

The SDRF collection will take place via monthly billing, except for those user accounts that have billing restrictions. BOE will no longer require the collection of SDRF above $5,000 prior to permit issuance. However, BOE can collect payments over-the-counter if specifically requested via the permit application.

Does the Street Damage Restoration Fee (SDRF) apply to alleys?

If an alley does not have a centerline shown on the geocoding module of the Online U-Permit Application System, it means that this alley does not have a section ID and no SDRF should be charged against it. In the geocoding module, the applicant may select “Alley (No Centerline)” under the Surface Type selection to note that the SDRF should be waived for an alley. 

My Excavation "U" Permit application was submitted prior to December 6th, 2018. Would it be subject to the previous SDRF Ordinance?

If the U-Permit application was submitted prior to December 6th, 2018 and within more than half of the allotted plancheck time frame, and there were no changes to the excavation alignment, the prior SDRF rate may apply. The allotted plancheck time frame varies based upon excavation size (i.e., small, medium, and large cuts). If the U-Permit application was submitted prior to December 6th, 2018 and the excavation alignment changed on or after this date, the new SDRF rate may apply. Applicants must geocode the permit cuts using the geocoding module of the Online U-Permit Application System and notify the District Office when complete. If applicable, BOE will manually override the SDRF rate from current to prior Ordinance  SDRF/SSDRF rates. Additional documentation and details may be requested to verify excavation alignment square-footage per street to ensure the prior SDRF/SSDRF rates are captured correctly for manual override.

LADWP collected the SDRF/SSDRF from a customer for an Excavation "U" Permit application prior to December 6th, 2018, but had not yet applied for the permit with BOE? How should LADWP proceed with this application?

In discussions with the Mayor's Office on this specific type of scenario, prior SDRF/SSDRF rates will be grandfathered-in if the fee was collected prior to December 6th, 2018 since LADWP had collected the fees on behalf of the City. 

Can an applicant request that the Street Damage Restoration Fee (SDRF) be collected by BOE prior to issuance of an Excavation U-Permit? For example, a utility agency may want a new utility service account holder to pay the SDRF of a permit directly to BOE, rather than having the SDRF collected via monthly billing.  

Yes, the utility agency can request that the SDRF be collected prior to U-Permit issuance. First, the function “BOE to Collect SDRF/SSDRF before issuing permit”  must be enabled when initially applying for the U-Permit. Additionally, the utility agency could include the following language at the top of the Work Description of the application: “BOE to collect SDRF prior to permit issuance.” The SDRF amount is typically determined immediately prior to permit issuance, to ensure that all revisions that may impact excavation alignment be reconciled against the SDRF amount, so to avoid future billing issues. The paid receipts of any payments collected prior to permit issuance must be uploaded to the U-Permit Application files for records.