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Los Angeles Water and Power Encroachment for Building an ADU

When do you need utility encroachment permit or public utility easement?

Are you thinking about building a new structure, doing an addition or converting an existing structure into an habitable unit on your property but there is an overhead power line within 10 feet of your project? If so, you will need to apply for an public utility easement with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP application found here). The application can be submitted by anyone, it does not have to be the owner. There is no cost for the clearance permit application but there are significant costs associated with engineering and relocation of existing utilities. Encroachment permits are usually for overhead or underground power equipment, but not limited to power. Water utility easements are only for Water equipment needs, mostly underground lines and are permitted through a separate process. 

To apply for an encroachment permit or request the relocation of LADWP facilities, you will have to record the vertical and horizontal measurements of the existing or proposed structures on your property to the power line, and then print, fill out, and mail the application to the LADWP. The entire permit process takes around 4 weeks for simple projects although wait times can take upwards of 4 months, and an additional 15 months to record the easement. A quitclaim finding can take up to 15 months. Please contact the LADWP Real Estate Records Section at (213) 367-0562 for updates.

Overhead power lines Overhead Powerline Diagram Overhead powerline vertical diagram

How to determine if you need a Encroachment Permit.

  • Horizontal Clearances: Anything within 10' of the power line will trigger an Encroachment permit (see image above center).
  • Vertical Clearances: If the height of your ADU is within these clearances, it will need a permit as well (see image above right).
  • Use existing surveys or subterranean reports when available.

Steps for Applying for an Encroachment Permit

  1. Find your property corners using either a pre-existing survey (can often being found through your local permit office or you can contact a professional surveyor) or by finding the pins at the corners of your property. Use your pins and information from your plat map (obtained through your local planning and building department) to find your property lines. 
  2. Measure and record the distance between your main house or the detached garage to the rear property line.
  3. Measure and record the distance of the rear property to the closest power line and pole.
  4. Determine the height of the power poles by contacting the utility department, or by using accurate visual references, or with a laser range finder.
  5. If you're working with Housable to complete and expedite your permit, provide us with this information and we will complete drawings and required encroachment application forms. If you're submitting on your own, provide this information to the LADWP and they will let you know what the next steps are. Include 2 sets of plans (Site plans, Exterior Elevations and include Survey, Subterranean, soils report if applicable) and submit to the following address:
    LADWP (Real Estate Services Section)
    221 N. Figueroa Street, Suite 1600
    Los Angeles, CA 90012 


Once you've submitted your utility easement application you'll either receive feedback that the easement is adequate to allow for building an ADU, that the easement is no longer needed, or that the power line will need to be relocated.  

  • Clearance Approved
  • Quitclaim - On a property where the LADWP owns any type of recorded easement, the homeowner has a right to ask for a return of any easement no longer in use. A quitclaim application costs around $6,420
  • To move the utility will require Overhead Construction Cost and Engineering Fees (If Applicable)