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Land Use, Zoning and Planning Law in California

The laws controlling how land can and cannot be used in Alameda, California are fairly complicated, and can be confusing to laypersons. This should provide a basic overview.

"Zoning" is the process by which a local government makes laws determining how individual pieces of land within its jurisdiction can be used. Typically, towns or cities are segmented off into "zones," each one being designated for a specific type of use. Examples of typical zoning categories are single family residence, commercial, multi-unit housing, or industrial.

There are a lot of rationales and purposes for zoning laws. In general, they're based in common sense: chemical plants shouldn't be constructed next to daycare centers, pig farms should not be constructed in the middle of a residential neighborhood, and other simple principles similar to that. Zoning laws, by keeping conflicting land uses separate, make life easier for all parties, ensuring that property values will be preserved, and that necessary industries can be conducted where they will not bother anyone.

Zoning also serves the interests of industry, as well as residents. By ensuring that there are places where heavy industry can take place, well-planned zoning regulations will ensure that industrialists are free to practice their trade, and that residents will not be disturbed by those activities, which makes industry more feasible by helping it prevent costly nuisance lawsuits.

What if My Property Violates Alameda, California's Zoning Laws?

You have quite a few options if you find that a planned or prevailing use of your property breaks Alameda, California's zoning regulations.

It should be apparent that the first option you should consider is to correct the violation. If doing this wouldn't cost you very much, or pose a huge inconvenience, you should obviously do this.

Of course, just fixing a zoning violation isn't always inexpensive or easy, and may interfere with your planned use of your property. For instance, you might have just undertaken a substantial remodeling of your home, and later found out that some small part of it technically doesn't conform to Alameda, California's zoning laws. If this happens to you, you can apply to your local zoning board for what's known as a "variance." This is simply a decree by the zoning board that the particular rule your property violates no longer applies. The Supreme Court has held that local zoning boards have to grant variances when the violation is quite minor, and enforcing the ordinance would be unduly burdensome and not in the public interest.

Additionally, if the zoning laws governing your property have changed, and some aspect of it is now violating the new rules, these changes can usually not be enforced against you, because it would be unfair to apply a new law retroactively.

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How Can a Alameda, California Attorney Help?

If you want to make improvements to your property, apply for a variance, or contest a zoning regulation as being applied to you retroactively, you have a right to do so, including some constitutional protections. However, your chances of prevailing in a zoning conflict will be markedly improved if you hire an efficient Alameda, California real estate attorney to help.

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Life in Alameda

Alameda, California is a city in Alameda County. Its population is currently about 80,000 people. It is located in the Eastern portion of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Alameda, California is located on two islands: Alameda Island and Bay Farm Island, in the San Francisco bay. Alameda, California is popular with wind surfers, thanks to its proximity to the San Francisco Bay, and the presence of a fairly large public beach in town, which, besides being a good site for wind surfing, provides beautiful views of the San Francisco skyline and the Bay Bridge.

Until 1997, Naval Air Station Alameda was one of the driving forces in the local economy. But it was closed in 1997, during a wave of military cutbacks and base closures that occurred at the end of the Cold War. Nowadays, Alameda, California is a major regional center for wine and spirit production. The alcohol industry is heavily regulated, so these wineries and distilleries hire a large number of Alameda, California attorneys.

If you need to find a lawyer in Alameda, California, you're in luck. There are many well-qualified and experienced attorneys in Alameda, California, who can help you with just about any legal issue you're likely to face.

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