PLANNING REVIEW PROCESS

Purpose and Intent

The Purpose of this guide is to prepare project proponents for the review and processing of various development applications within the City of Lomita. It is made available to the public for reference, as a summary of code requirements and explanation of planning terms and processes.

The information provided herein is consistent with the General Plan of the City of Lomita, the current Zoning Code, the California State Subdivision Map Act, and all other applicable state, county and local ordinances, policies and regulations.

Review Process

Ministerial Approval: Staff Review

Prior to obtaining a building permit, projects that entail construction or modifications to existing structures, including construction of fences, new windows, and solar installations, must undergo an administrative (staff level) site plan review to verify the project’s compliance with the City’s required development standards.

A member of the Planning Division staff will be assigned as the case planner for the project upon an application's submission. The case planner will review the project for compliance with applicable development standards and will collect an administrative review fee from the applicant; the review fee is waived for solar panel projects. Projects that require minor corrections will be provided a list of revisions necessary to make the project code compliant. The applicant will be issued an approval letter once any necessary revisions are made and the case planner determines that the project adheres to all applicable development standards. The planner will also stamp plans submitted with the application.

Upon receiving administrative approval the applicant must submit two complete sets of plans to the Los Angeles County Department of Building and Safety for plan check. A complete set of plans includes a site plan, structural plan, floor plans, and elevations. Building and Safety staff will inform the applicant if additional plans or sets of plans are required.

Plan check fees are collected at the time of submission and are based on the valuation of the project, but include school tax and other fees. Plans are reviewed for expansive soil conditions, seismic resistance requirements, and energy saving measures, as well as other Building and Safety requirements. After any required modifications to the plans are made; a building permit is issued. 

Discretionary Approval: Planning Commission Review

If the administrative review shows that a project does not meet code requirements or requires discretionary review per the Lomita Zoning Code, the project will need entitlement approval from the Planning Commission and possibly the City Council depending on the entitlement(s) requested prior to obtaining a building permit. Planning Commission approval is also required for discretionary planning applications, including but not limited to; zone change, and conditional use permit applications.

A member of the Planning Division staff will be assigned as the case planner for the project. The case planner will provide the applicant a list of required supplemental materials be submitted with their application, such as plans, elevations, site surveys, etc. After an application is determined complete for processing, the case planner will prepare and present a report to the Commission recommending approval or denial of the project.

Development Advisory Committee

The case planner will schedule the project for review and discussion by the Development Advisory Committee (DAC). The DAC meets on the second Tuesday of each month and provides a coordinated review of development proposals with regard to the City Code, goals, policies, and standards. The purpose of the meeting is to review the proposed project and identify any issues requiring special attention or revision.

The DAC is comprised of the following representatives, forming the core group: Principal Planner, City Engineer, Los Angeles County Sheriff Deputy, and Assistant City Manager. As necessary or as requested, additional members may be requested to attend the meeting to provide specialized review.
An applicant’s responsiveness to the DAC’s comments and concerns will help to expedite the project through this step of the planning process. If necessary, DAC members may meet individually with applicants to resolve technical issues. Such meetings should be coordinated with the case planner.

Once all issues have been addressed by the DAC and the applicant has submitted all necessary materials, the case planner will prepare the staff report which includes a project recommendation and schedule the project for a public hearing for Planning Commission review.

Planning Commission Hearing

A public hearing requires notification of surrounding property owners and allows for opposing arguments to be heard. The procedures necessary to schedule a public hearing are detailed in the appropriate instructions. The Lomita Planning Commission meets on the second Monday of each month. Plans must be filed a minimum of 45 days prior to the meeting to be included on the agenda for review. After the case planner presents the project’s staff report, the applicant, as well anyone in attendance at the hearing, will be given the opportunity to address the Commission regarding the project. The Planning Commission may then approve, approve with conditions, or deny the proposed project. For approvals such as tentative maps and legislative amendments, the Planning Commission will make a recommendation to the City Council for final approval, approval with conditions, or denial.

Appeals / City Council Review

If an applicant is dissatisfied with the Planning Commission’s decision it may be appealed to City Council. The decision of the City Council upon an appeal from an action of the commission is final and conclusive.

Planning Terms

1. Accessory Dwelling Unit

An accessory dwelling unit (ADU) is a secondary dwelling unit with complete independent living facilities for one or more persons. ADUs are permitted in residential zones on lots where there is an existing single-family residence. ADUs that meet all code requirements require ministerial review. ADUs that do not meet code requirements must receive Planning Commission approval.

2. Conditional Use Permit

A conditional use permit is the method by which the City regulates the location and operation of certain types of land uses to minimize their impacts on the surrounding community. Additionally the conditional use permit sets forth the limitations and conditions under which a business may operate. A conditional use permit requires a public hearing. An Application Form, Request for Hearing, Radius Map, Certified List, and Affidavit are required. Fees must be submitted with the application.

3. Variance

Variances are intended to permit alterations of development standards as they apply to particular pieces of property when practical difficulties develop from the strict interpretation of zoning codes. Variances may be required in particular cases for building setbacks, height, bulk and density, parking, landscaping, walls, and fencing.

A variance requires a public hearing. Instructions for a Zone Variance application are the same as for a conditional use permit above.

4. Zone Change/Zone Text Amendment

A zone change is a request to change the current zoning designation of a property to a different designation. Zone Text Amendments modify procedures, provisions, requirements, or standards applicable to the development or use of property within the City. Both zone changes and zone text amendments require Planning Commission and City Council approval.

5. Height Variation Permit

A Height Variation Permit is required for any residential property south of Pacific Coast Highway proposing new construction exceeding 16 feet above natural grade. Initially required are:

  1. A completed application form and fee,
  2. A certified mail receipt indicating that construction plans have been sent to all adjacent property owners, and
  3. A frame of the proposed addition attached to the subject property (please see case planner for instructions).

Staff will notify adjacent property owners within a 300 foot radius of the proposed project. If less than 5% of those notified object within 14 days of notification, and the Planning Division finds that the proposed construction is designed and situated in such a manner as to minimize view obstruction and meets all other zoning requirements of the City, the Community Development Director may approve the application.

If objections are received from 5% or more of those notified, a public hearing is required. The case planner will inform the applicant of any additional requirements prior to the hearing.

6. Land Subdivisions

In accordance with the Subdivision Map Act, any subdivision of land into 4 lots or units or less requires a parcel map and any subdivision of 5 lots or units or more requires a tract map. Tentative maps are first submitted to the Planning Division with an application form and required fees. The Planning Division will route plans through the city’s Public Works Department and through the City’s engineering consultant for review and comment. The applicant must submit plans to Los Angeles County Fire Land Development Division for review. The case planner will assist in this process. Comments and corrections required by the county, City departments or other consultants will be provided. The tentative map is then scheduled for Planning Commission and City Council public hearings for approval. The Commission and Council will review the tentative map for consistency with the applicable zoning and general plan land use designations.
Final maps are to be completed within the time frame allowed, and are again scheduled for City Council approval.

7. Lot Line Adjustment

A Lot Line Adjustment is a change in the lot lines of 2 or more existing adjacent parcels where the land taken from one parcel is added to an adjacent parcel, and no new lot is created. An application form and appropriate fees are required. Generally, the Community Development Director may approve or conditionally approve a lot line adjustment.

8. CEQA Requirements

The City is required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to evaluate the environmental impacts of new development and, if necessary, provide mitigation measures prior to development approval. An environmental review is provided for all projects seeking an entitlement from the City. The case planner will determine the appropriate environmental review based upon the specific application.

9. Water Conservation Requirements

In compliance with AB 325, the City has adopted a water-efficient landscape ordinance for new developments. Projects will be assessed for compliance with this ordinance whenever applicable.