How the Bureau of Engineering Helps Get Building Permit Approved Faster

When you’re getting ready to develop any type of building, you’ll need to apply for building permits from the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety. However, you’ll also be tasked with working with the Bureau of Engineering in many instances. This department is directly responsible for managing the design, construction, and planning of open space projects, public buildings, and infrastructure.

Regardless of the type of building you’re creating, the Bureau of Engineering must approve of any changes you make to sewer lines, sanitation, sidewalks, and similar aspects of the property. By interfacing with the Bureau of Engineering, you may be able to get your building permit approved at a faster rate. The following offers a detailed guide on the Bureau of Engineering and the role they have in the permitting process.

documents signing

What is the Bureau of Engineering?

The Bureau of Engineering (BOE) is the department that oversees the designing and building of public infrastructure projects in Los Angeles. One important aspect of the Bureau’s work is managing the process of obtaining building permits for these projects. If development is set to occur in the city’s public right-of-way, the BOE will oversee it. They focus on projects that might impact city lanes, parkways, street, sidewalks, and similar facilities.

In the event that your project is set to involve work on easements, parking lots, or main sewer lines, the BOE department will review your project and make sure that the work you expect to do adheres to local building codes. If the BOE reviews your project, they will focus on a wide range of issues. However, every municipality and jurisdiction maintains different requirements when it comes to BOE reviews.

The Los Angeles BOE is comprised of the divisions listed below:

  • Industrial waste
  • Civil engineering
  • Environmental health
  • Public works
  • Sanitation

You must meet a set of requirements with your project before you’re given a “Ready to Issue” letter, which essentially means that the project can go forward.

Understanding the Permitting Process

If you want to be able to construct any type of building or project in Los Angeles, you’ll need to obtain the right permits before your work can legally go forward. If you hold the right building permit, you’ll be able to complete your project without fear that the city will ask you to tear it down or make substantial changes to the design.

This type of document is an official approval that a governmental department is capable of issuing. Most Los Angeles building permits are issued by the LADBS. However, the Bureau of Engineering can issue permits for public works projects and will handle certain steps in the permitting process.

The purpose of a building permit is to make sure that your construction project is following all of the necessary regulations pertaining to land use, environmental protection, and building standards. While you may be able to obtain a building permit for your project without encountering many issues, this process requires that you follow certain steps. The main steps in the building permit process include:

  • Make your project plan
  • Meet with local officials before submitting application
  • Submit the building permit application with site plans and any other required documentation
  • Work with local officials during the permit review process
  • Obtain your permit
  • Schedule several on-site inspections during development
  • Receive final approval following the last inspection

The Bureau of Engineering grants a wide range of different construction permits, which include everything from excavation permits to sewer permits. You’ll need to pay fees for any permit you seek. The Bureau of Engineering will take care of site inspections and will perform plan checks when necessary.

signing documents

Working with the Bureau of Engineering on Permitting

Working with the Bureau of Engineering can be a seamless process as long as you know what to expect and how to accommodate a smooth application process. First of all, it’s important that the plans you submit are accurate and complete. If some of the information in these plans is incorrect or missing, the entire approval process could be delayed. If you happen to make a mistake in the documentation, you would need to take time to correct it.

When the Bureau of Engineering requests additional information about your project, it’s essential that you respond promptly to keep delays at a minimum. When applying for a permit, you should be able to schedule an appointment with the Bureau of Engineering, during which you’ll submit your application and plans. The documents you should provide alongside your application include:

Make sure that you provide this documentation to the Bureau of Engineering at the same time that you submit it to other local building departments. In many cases, BOE will take longer to provide approval because of how complex their tasks are. There’s a good chance that the entire application and approval process will take a few months to be completed.

Working closely with the Bureau of Engineering throughout the permitting process can be highly beneficial. You will know exactly when an issue is detected and should be able to avoid costly delays. By taking the right approach during this process, you’ll be able to ensure compliance with building codes and regulations.

Active Projects and Completed Projects

The Bureau of Engineering has had a leading role in the design and construction of many public infrastructure projects throughout Los Angeles. Their projects can be separated into active and completed projects. A few examples of their active projects are:

  • Degnan Blvd. Street Improvement Project
  • Hollywood Sanitation Yard
  • Lankershim Arts Center

The Degnan Blvd. improvement project is designed to provide reconstruction and street improvements for the west and east sidewalks that are found along Degnan Blvd. Some of the proposed design elements that will likely be incorporated into this project are meant to emphasize the historical and cultural significance of Leimert Park Village. For instance, metal plaques will be placed in the sidewalks to effectively replace deteriorated plaques.

The Hollywood Sanitation Yard project is a full redevelopment of the current 38,500 square-feet yard. This project involves clearing all existing developments and demolishing several buildings on the site. The old buildings will be replaced with a two-story structure that includes 8,500 square feet of floor space, and around 5,700 square feet of carport canopy structures.

The Lankershim Arts Center project involves making improvements to this building. These improvements include a window replacement, new roofing, small upgrades to HVAC components, and electrical lighting upgrades. The Bureau of Engineering manages all types of public construction projects. Most of these projects are designed to improve the city’s infrastructure as well as the quality of life in the area.

There are also some notable examples of completed projects that the Bureau of Engineering played a role in. For instance, they oversaw the Elysian Valley Shared Path project, which was an improvement project aimed at bolstering pedestrian safety along a portion of the LA River Bikeway that’s found in the Elysian Valley neighborhood. During this project, new surface treatments, striping, and signage were added. Numerous street end locations were also improved to increase accessibility to the path and provide various rest intervals.

Another project that’s already been approved but will take another five to six years to complete is the Glendale Hyperion viaduct complex improvement project. This $80 million project is managed directly by the Bureau of Engineering and is meant to upgrade this structure in a manner that allows it to effectively withstand earthquakes. The project will also improve the bridge’s appearance and enhance safety for anyone who drives, walks, or bikes over the bridge. The primary elements of this project include:

  • Preservation and restoration of historic elements
  • Stormwater capture
  • Connections to the main biking and walking path
  • Widening the bridge for better accessibility
  • Seismic retrofit to improve safety

Some of the historical elements that will be preserved during this project include pylons, existing light poles, and railing.

checking plans and permits


The Bureau of Engineering is the main city department that you’ll work with when completing any project that involves public buildings, open spaces, and infrastructure. You’ll likely be tasked with applying for building permits from BOE before starting work on the project at hand. During the permitting process, the BOE will conduct inspections and plan checks.

They have ample experience with designing and constructing public infrastructure projects, which means that they have the skills necessary to ensure that your building and site plans meet the local building code. Before you begin work on your project, you should take some time to learn more about the Bureau of Engineering and the services they offer. If you work with the Bureau on your own building projects, you’re less likely to encounter costly delays during development.

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