Need an Approval? – Getting it Right

  • Need approval from the Planning Department?
  • Have to file an application to City Hall?

First we look at your business – what do you need, how do you plan to operate, what happens if you do well? Many businesses get approved with the wrong limitations or conditions – not enough tables, limited hours, parking requirements or operating requirements. We understand your business first, then we get to work on the approval.

Applications are discretionary, but we increase your odds of success. We work with retail, restaurant, residential and industrial. We know conditional uses, alcohol sales, subdivisions, mini-malls and supermarkets. From the small business to the regional retailer, we can be of service to you.

Fees: Vary based on the number and type of applications required (Zone Variance, Parking Variance, Conditional Use Permit, Zone Change, Condominium Conversion, Small Lot Subdivision, etc.), as well as complicating factors such as the controversial nature of the request, and multiple jurisdictions.

Application services include:

  • Zoning and permit research
  • Advocacy at city hall to establish code and processing requirements
  • Land use survey of site and surrounding properties
  • Preparation of the application and written justification
  • Photo exhibit
  • Preparation of notification package including radius map, owners lists, occupants list and abutting owners
  • Filing and monitoring of the application
  • Identification of potential conditions of approval
  • Community/political outreach
  • Representation at the public hearing

For alcohol applications, additional services may include:

  • Fire/police department outreach
  • Preparation and filing of the application to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board
  • Negotiation of conditions
  • Monitoring of application package
  • Application and findings of Public Convenience or Necessity

Approval Renewal – Protecting your Business

  • Is your approval expiring within the next 2 years?
  • Do your current conditions of approval make it hard for you to do business?
  • Has your approval expired already?
  • Have you changed your operation since your last approval?

Our approval renewal service documents your history of operation and creates a new application package which maximizes the city’s perception of you as a quality establishment worthy of renewal. We also look at how your operation has changed and identify conditions which need to be modified to improve revenue and reduce costs. Finally, we handle all of the tough stuff – community outreach, speaking at the public hearing, writing the justifications, creating the condition compliance package, preparing the notifications and walking your application through the maze at city hall – so you can focus on running your business.


Condition Compliance Monitoring Program

Zoning codes are meant to protect surrounding uses from potential impacts from new uses. This is why the City of Los Angeles Office of Zoning Administration will often place conditions of approval on a new use which limit its operation and why grants are often set to expire after a period of time.

Our Condition Compliance Monitoring Program provides you and the city assurance that your business will operate within required conditions. We create a documented history of compliance. We educate new managers on operating conditions and we provide a seamless transition for renewals when the grant expires. We also let you know when your business is expanding beyond previous approvals and help you build a case for a larger grant.

Start up work (per location)

Train management and staff on conditions compliance including:

  • Approved Site Plan, Floor Plan and Elevations
  • Planning Department Grants
  • Radius Map, as well as Ownership, Occupant, and Abutting List
  • Recorded Covenant and Agreement
  • Recorded Parking Agreements
  • Agreements with Neighborhood and Community groups
  • Photographs documenting compliance
  • Identification of critical contacts to maintain, including police, neighborhood and council
  • Identification of conditions yet to be cleared
  • Goals which need to be met prior to filing for renewal of Planning Approval

Annual review

  • Site visit to verify continued compliance
  • Meeting with on-site management
  • Update to off-site management
  • Documentation of compliance to Planning Department public file to build a case for renewal of your license
  • Documentation of compliance to Corporate Office


  • Consistent compliance at each location
  • Fewer costly citations
  • History of systematic compliance = easier licensing in new locations
  • Smoother, less costly renewals with longer terms and friendlier conditions of operation


What is a Conditional Use Permit or Variance?

At its most basic, zoning is designed to protect residential uses.

General Plans arrange major land uses – commercial, manufacturing, residential – in a way that buffers impacts. Zoning codes provide more specific direction. They say where they want single family neighborhoods, verses apartment buildings or where they want malls verses small shops. They also plan for how the buildings should be designed – such as enough parking, windows or landscaping.

When a business matches the zone, but might have impacts on the surrounding neighborhood, the city requires a Conditional Use Permit. This means the use is allowed, but the city wants to hold a hearing to determine what conditions to place on the use so it doesn’t harm the area around it. Neighbors and politicians are notified of the hearing, and city departments can file reports to suggest conditions. A common example is alcohol sales. Restaurants are allowed in commercial zones. However, alcohol sales could be a problem without protective conditions. Some examples of conditions might be hours of operation, direction of lights in the parking lot or limitations on happy hours and dancing.

When a business does not match the zone, a variance is required. Some variance examples include modified parking, use (commercial in residential zone) or setbacks (putting a building closer to a property line than is allowed). Again, the city holds a hearing to determine if the variance should be approved and the community is notified.

Conditional Use Permits and Variances are discretionary. The city can say yes or no. Often the critical factors are how the case is presented to the city, buy-in from relevant departments, professional representation at the public hearing, previous decisions on similar cases, support from the community and how the business has operated in the past.

Success requires matching the code, the bureaucracy, and the community factors to your business needs.