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In order to receive approval for a demolition or conversion permit, the project owner must comply with the California Government Code Section 65590 and 65590.1, commonly known as the 1982 Mello Act. The Mello Act is a statewide law which seeks to preserve housing for persons and families with low and moderate incomes in California’s Coastal Zone.


The first step in meeting Mello Act obligations is to consult with the Department of City Planning (DCP) to verify if the project is exempt. If the DCP determines that a LAHD Mello Determination is needed, the owner will be given a City Planning Mello Act Advisory Notice and Screening Checklist for Coastal Zone Projects form with a DCP Case Number assigned. Applicants referred to LAHD are presumed to have been vetted by the DCP and are not exempt. The Applicant must complete LAHD’s Demolition-Conversion Mello Application. LAHD will then conduct its determination of potential affordable units. Affordability is measured by both: (1) rental history for the previous three years, and (2) the income level of any current residents. The property’s affordability status must be documented by one of LAHD’s Mello Act Analyst. Unless the unit has been unoccupied for more than 365 consecutive days prior to the applicant’s filing with the DCP, the Analyst will require information about the property for the three (3) years prior to the date of the application with DCP for discretionary cases, or the date of the Building Permit Application for non-discretionary cases. A unit shall not be considered affordable if it has been unoccupied for more than 365 consecutive days prior to the application’s filing. The owner has the burden of proving long-term vacancy.

It is the applicant’s responsibility to provide documentation verifying the project’s rental history. Failure to provide sufficient documentation within 30 days of the Mello Application date may result in LAHD issuing an inconclusive determination.

This information, along with information provided by any existing tenants, will be used to determine if affordable units currently exist and need to be replaced.  Tenant information can take 30 days to receive and process. A determination will be given to the City Planning Department concerning the conditions which must be met prior to granting a building permit on the project. If City Planning determines that replacement units must be provided, the Applicant must submit an Affordable Housing Provision Plan to LAHD specifying how this will be done, and receive LAHD’s approval.

It takes approximately 8 to 12 weeks upon receipt of all the required documents to review and evaluate the Mello Application, although a complex project may take longer.  Please keep this in mind when planning your timeline.

For additional questions about the Mello Act, please call (213) 808-8448 (3-1-1 for TTY) or email

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