08 - Sidewalk Encroachments

Revised on 07-23-2020

Policy 797 - Establishment of Revocable Permit (R-Permit) Policy for Sidewalk Encroachments and Transmittal 1 - Revocable Permit (R-Permit) Policy for Sidewalk Encroachments was adopted on September 16, 2019, and included several adopted recommendations.  There are many different types of encroachments that applicants may want to install, and the sidewalk area is used for many different purposes. The approved policy attempts to allow encroachments desired by adjacent property owners without compromising public safety or the intended use of the sidewalk area, especially the primary use of pedestrian travel.  The following is a list of typical encroachments that are subject to this policy:

  • Railings, fences, and walls
  • Bollards (additional information below)
  • Signs & monuments (Advertisement is not allowed through an R-permit)
  • Planters
  • Private structures
  • Non-conforming bicycles racks or corrals
  • Stairways and ramps

 

Requirements


BOE will conduct a technical review of the proposed encroachments to verify the designs are safe, that materials are suitable for the Public Right of Way (PROW); and that encroachments will not damage or restrict access to existing sidewalks, street trees or other infrastructure.  In general, it is expected-that private encroachments would not exceed approximately half of the sidewalk area.  

Sidewalk Encroachment information below comes from the Policy from the Board of Public Works on 9/16/19 and current BOE processes.   The applicable District Engineer shall review and approve the permit application prior to issuance of the permit.

BOE Counter staff should review/collect the following:

  1. Sketch with dimensions:  Should also include all existing street furniture protruding above the finished surface of the sidewalk such as streetlights, power poles, fire hydrants, news racks, street trees & tree wells, parking meters, street signs, etc.   This should identify everything within the area from the curb face to the property line and along the entire property frontage(s).  
    1. Bollard Specific Guidelines for Plans/Sketches
  2. Copy of the Deed/Lease Agreement:  Eligible applicants shall be limited to the legal owners of the adjacent property.
  3. Fees:  
    1. Permit Processing Fee:  Applications for new revocable permits for sidewalk encroachments shall be charged the Tier 2 "Field Investigation Required" fee per the current BOE fee schedule, "Standard Fees, Charges and Deposits".   Field visits will be required to verify compliance with the terms of the Board Policy.  Proposed encroachments that do not comply with one or more of the requirements of this policy shall require approval by the Board of Public Works and be charged the Tier 3 Revocable Permit Fee.  A Tier 3 Revocable Permit Fee will also be charged if there is a request to appeal a BOE decision to the Board.  Appeals of a BOE determination may be made only be the permit applicant, and must be submitted in writing to the Board of Public Works Executive Officer within thirty (30) days of BOE's determination. Appeals shall be heard by the Board.
    2. Change in Ownership:  A change in ownership of the property shall require a new revocable permit.
      1. No Changes to the Layout (minor compared to the original scope):  A Tier 1 Revocable Permit Fee shall be required if no changes are proposed to encroachments. A new Waiver of Damages and Proof of Liability Insurance will be required to be signed and notarized.
      2. Changes to the Layout:  A Tier 2 "Field Investigation Required" fee per the current BOE fee schedule, "Standard Fees, Charges and Deposits" shall be charged.
  4. Proof of Sufficient Liability Insurance:  Insurance in an amount not less than $1,000,000.  Proof of liability insurance shall be renewed annually with the Risk Management Group of the City Administrative Officer.
  5. Waiver of Damages Signed, Notarized and Recorded with the County of Los Angeles (#11.8):  City staff to prepare this for the applicant. A Waiver of Damages shall be signed and notarized by the underlying
    property title holder and shall be recorded with the County Recorders Office at the property owner's expense.  If there is a change in permit ownership, a new Proof of Liability Insurance and new Waiver of Damages will be required to be signed and notarized.  
  6. Maintenance:  A covenant shall be recorded to memorialize responsibilities regarding maintenance of the encroachments.
  7. BOE Staff to confirm the Allowable Location of Encroachments (per the City Planning  Complete Street/Great Street Guidelines):  Sidewalk encroachments may be allowed  in any portion of the sidewalk area fronting a property provided the following are considered:
    1. Minimum Pedestrian Access Route (PAR):  A Pedestrian Access Route with a width of at least 5-feet shall be provided clear of obstructions.
    2. Loading Zones and Property Access Points:  Encroachments shall not obstruct the PAR fronting a loading zone whether it be pedestrian, bus, disabled access, or cargo, including any entrance, exit, driveway or loading dock on the adjacent property.
    3. Amenity Zone Requirements:  Includes trees, landscaping (parkway), signage, Street Furniture, street lights, and utility poles. Other items to consider include:
      1. Encroachments in the amenity zone shall not be allowed within a 24-inch  clearance from the curb face
      2. Obstruction of sight distance (visibility triangle) for vehicles shall also be taken into consideration.     The “visibility triangle” is defined per LAMC 62.200 - Street Intersections - Obstructions to Visibility.
      3. Encroachments in the Amenity Zone may be allowed on a case-by-case
  8. Additional Clearance Requirements:  Clearance requirements vary by the type of sidewalk encroachment being installed.  Please refer to any available guidelines.
  9. Planters:  If the Applicant selects plants listed in the Residential Parkway Landscaping Guidelines, BSS will not have to review the plant selection.  Otherwise, BSS must be reviewed the plants.  The planter itself will be reviewed by BOE staff for appropriateness.  BOE counter staff may consult with the Design Standards and Investigation Group, if necessary.
  10. Construction Permits Required for Installation:  The R-permit is only an encroachment permit but not a construction permit. A Class A, Class B, or Class E permit will be required to construct improvements
    within the public right of way.
  11. Height of Encroachments:  Fences, rails, or walls for front yards should not exceed 42-inches in height
  12. Visibility Triangle:  No encroachments are within the visibility triangle as described in LAMC 62.200 - Street Intersections - Obstructions to Visibility.
  13. Aesthetic Requirements:  BOE will review to determine if the proposed encroachments are consistent with the general look of the neighborhood and any other relevant streetscape guidelines. If BOE has a concern regarding the aesthetic appearance of the proposed encroachments, BOE may consult with the Department of Cultural Affairs, Planning Department and/or others. If BOE continues to be uncertain regarding the aesthetics of the proposed encroachments after such consultations, a Tier 3 Revocable Permit will be required and the application will be brought before the Board of Public Works for consideration.
  14. Public Safety Installations:  Any encroachments for public safety concerns may require validation from the following Departments regarding necessity. The City Engineer shall have the authority to determine when such validations are required as well as to determine the appropriate department(s) from which to seek validation.
    1. Los Angeles Police Department:  LAPD shall validate the Applicant's request to to install an encroachment due to a safety concern.  
    2. Los Angeles Fire Department:  LAFD requires a minimum distance from their facilities, including a minimum distance of 60 inches from fire hydrants.  LAFD shall validate the Applicant's request if fire facilities are within the proposed encroachment area.
  15. Coordination with Other City Departments/Bureaus: 
    1. Bureau of Street Services, Urban Forestry (BSS):  BOE will consult with BSS in cases where a question regarding a potential impact to street trees or where plants are proposed that are not pre-approved by the City for use in the public right of way.  As a part of this review BOE will also review the cumulative impact to the general area to verify adequate space remains for the other sidewalk functions.  Specific encroachments may have different distance requirements.
    2. Bureau of Street Lighting (BSL):  Applicants are required to provide a minimum of 48 inches clear space to a streetlight pole, traffic signal pole, or other utility pole.
  16. ADA Compliance:  Sidewalks shall be repaired or reconstructed in the area of proposed encroachments to meet the ADA requirements listed below (A-C).  If the condition of the sidewalk fronting proposed encroachment area does NOT meet all below-listed conditions, it will be required to be repaired or removed and replaced to be ADA compliant. However, if the only deficiency is the cross slope of up to 4 percent (4%) the sidewalk will not be required to be repaired. The area of the sidewalk assessment shall include all the frontage of the proposed encroachment area plus a 10-foot minimum transition on each end satisfactory to the City Engineer. The 10-foot transition area may be reduced to the minimum practical length determined by the City Engineer in cases where it would cross to a neighboring property.
    1. Vertical Displacement (uplift) - Need not to exceed ¼ inch
    2. Sidewalk Cross-slope - Need not to exceed a 2 percent (2%) slope
    3. Horizontal Displacement (cracks and crumbling) - Need not to exceed a ¼ inch gap

 

Enforcement


BOE staff are not tasked with inspecting or monitoring compliance with the permit requirements.  BSS is the primary enforcement agency; however, BCA has also been badged to provide additional enforcement. The BSS Investigation and Enforcement Division will be notified to investigate any complaints. Citations may be issued for non-compliance. Compliance with permit requirements may include but are not limited to the following:

  1. No encroachments are within the visibility triangle as described in LAMC 62.200 - Street Intersections - Obstructions to Visibility
  2. No advertising is allowed in the public right-of-way per LAMC 67.02 - Construction of Signs on Streets or Other Public Property
  3. Others, to be determined by BSS

 

REVOCABLE PERMIT REQUIREMENTS (RPR) LETTER 


BOE Staff will prepare a RPR letter, which is a list of conditions that must be met prior to issuance of the Revocable Permit for sidewalk encroachments along with a deadline to meet the listed conditions. The deadline is generally one year from the date of the RPR letter, but may be shorter or longer as determined to be appropriate by the City Engineer. Should the Applicant fail to meet the condition(s) by the specified deadline, the application will expire and the Applicant would need to start a new Revocable Permit and pay the appropriate fee.

Additionally, a new revocable permit application and fee will be required where the Applicant desires to change the scope of work to the extent that it requires an additional investigation and RPR letter. In cases where the scope change is minor compared to the original scope, the City Engineer may charge a Tier 1 Revocable Permit fee for subsequent applications.

A "Sample R Permit Requirements Letter" can be found under R Permits, Checklists and Sample Documents

PERMIT REVOCATION


The following processes are per Policy 797 - Establishment of Revocable Permit (R-Permit) Policy for Sidewalk Encroachments and Transmittal 1 - Revocable Permit (R-Permit) Policy for Sidewalk Encroachments .

If there is any violation of the conditions of the Sidewalk Encroachment R-Permit, said permit can be revoked and the permit holder will be required, at no cost, to remove the encroachments and return the public right-of-way to the satisfaction of the City Engineer.  Depending on the restorations made to the public right-of-way, the permit holder may also be required to restore the public right-of-way to current local, state or federal standards through the issuance of an A or B Permit. 

If a permittee or land owner wishes to cancel a Sidewalk Encroachment R-Permit, they must provide BOE staff a written request to cancel the permit.  The permit holder will be required, at no cost, to remove the encroachments and return the public right-of-way to the satisfaction of the City Engineer.  Depending on the restorations made to the public right-of-way, the permit holder may also be required to restore the public right-of-way to current local, state or federal standards through the issuance of an A or B Permit. 

Once the right-of-way has been restored to the satisfaction of the City Engineer, BOE will issue the permit holder a letter stating the permit is no longer valid.  This revocation letter will be required when the property owner wants to clear from the land title the Waiver of Damage that was recorded with the County of Los Angeles.  The property owner is responsible for clearing the Waiver of Damages, not the tenant.