County sees lot as 2 APNs but City has it as 1 APN

3 Replies

Hello fellow BP members. Had a question regarding county vs city views on a APN(s). These properties are located in Los Angeles Country and within Los Angeles City Have a owner that wants to sell his 2 houses since needs the money. They both need some rehab on them and ran the numbers and they were great fix and flip properties, just had to buy them both not one or the other, but still great profit potential. The issue came with the city report. The city issued a permit for the SFR to build a secondary unit ( granny unit, ADU,etc) on the lot since the city sees it as one lot not two like the county. This complicates things now since it's like me purchasing a SFR with a ADU and not as two separate houses since I'm sure the next buyers will want to have this resolved if selling each house fixed up to two separate owners. The best case scenarios is to have them as two separate houses. Anyone have any suggestions or experience with dealing with the City of LA to make them change it to two seperate houses/lots. They both have difference addresses too. Does the county supersede city law? Thanks!

I'd suggest doing some research and see if these properties were just one lot and later divided. The fact that the city shows it different than the county is probably not uncommon. Who's the taxing authority? City? County? Both? Anyway, the best way to find out what happened is to research it. I've had good success going to city/county offices in person and pleading my case for info to the people there. They usually can help you look stuff up and find out the timeline of what took place. Once you know how/when it was listed as two lots for the county, then that may help you resolve it at the city level.

@Charles Cooper I had this issue in my city but only one house on two lots. City showed one lot county showed two. I raised the house and built 2 new houses. 

The issue was when the city incorporated they used the original subdivision maps and if any lots were subdivided prior to the city incorporating and not record as such then it did not transfer.

The fix is to search title and original maps of the parcels. Then you prepare a survey of the two parcels and record them as separate lots at the city. As long as they are still reordered as separate lots at the county you should be ok.

Run this by the city and see what they tell you.

I'm going to attempt to give you the readers digest version, and then if you want to post the address or PM it to me I can take a look and give the real answer.

The assessor's number and tax plat are essentially meaningless. There are three 'types' of lots that you're talking about here though you may not realize it. Often they are all the same but sometimes they aren't. The types are legal lots, mapped lots and assessment or tax parcels. 

A legal lot means any piece of property that was legally subdivided. In most states you have a "subdivision map act" that says what you have to do to subdivide property. Basically after around 1972 you can only subdivide by filing a new map. So if the 'lots' were created before then using a deed description it's OK, after that they would have needed to be mapped.

So a mapped lot is one created by filing a map that shows it's boundary. It is possible to have an unmapped but legal lot. It's more common on agricultural property....but can happen anywhere that property was sold using a deed description before 1972.

Tax plat, really these mean nothing more than how the County is diving up the property for taxes. Often it is based on the lots above, but anyone can file to divide it differently. I see it most often on commercial properties where a tenant on say a mall site segregates their 'parcel' so they pay taxes for their own improvements. 

As far as an ADU goes the state ordinance actually prohibits an ADU from being sold separately because if they are on one legal lot zoned for SFR you've now been able to illegally violates zoning and CEQA without going through the required discretionary subdivision process. I actually know of a specific site here in SD that tried to do that....they meet zoning, they have two mapped lots, but they are only one legal lot. They submitted for two APNs and tried to sell them, and the title company won't insure because they aren't legally divided.

That doesn't mean you can't find a parcel that is two legal and two mapped lots, and easily separate them. It all depends on the dates and legal characteristics of the site. My guess the seller thought he could get away without going through a subdivision and sell the units individually, and that isn't the case.