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Land Use, Zoning and Planning Law in California

The laws controlling how land can and cannot be used in Anaheim, California are fairly perplexing, 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. Usually, 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.

Local governments have various different reasons for enacting zoning laws, ranging from ensuring that residential areas are peaceful and quiet, to safeguarding property values. For instance, most people wouldn't buy a home in a neighborhood where they knew it was possible for a neighbor to turn their house into a factory.

Zoning laws generally acknowledge the necessities of things like factories, sewage treatment plants, and stockyards, but recognize that such activities shouldn't be done in residential areas.

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

If something on your property is in violation of a Anaheim, California zoning law, the landowner has several avenues.

The most obvious solution is to correct the problem, so your property is no longer in violation of local zoning laws. If the violation is minor, and correcting it would not be extremely costly, this is likely the ideal way to go.

However, it isn't always practical or affordable to correct a minor violation of a zoning law. For instance, suppose you have just spent a large amount of money and effort remodeling a house to turn it into your dream home. You thought you were in total compliance with local zoning laws when you did this, but find out that there is some small, technical violation of Anaheim, California's zoning laws. In these cases, you have recourse in the form of a variance. You are entitled to petition the local zoning board to grant you a variance, which is an official decision not to apply a certain provision of a zoning law to a single violation. These aren't always granted, but generally have to be granted if the violation doesn't interfere with anyone else's use of their property, and doesn't thwart the purposes of local zoning laws.

Furthermore, zoning ordinances cannot be applied against you retroactively. For instance, suppose you built a 3-story house on your property, and your property was zoned to allow 3-story houses to be built at the time of construction. And then, years later, the area you reside in is re-zoned, to only allow 2-story houses. Can the local government force you to remove a whole level of your house? Of course not. Applying a law retroactively is unconstitutional. On the other hand, any future changes you want to make to your property will have to comply with the applicable zoning ordinance as it is currently written.

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How Can a Anaheim, California Attorney Help?

If you find yourself facing zoning or other land use issues, it's critical to have good legal advice. A reputable Anaheim, California attorney will help you work within the law to ensure that you are as free as possible to make the use of your land that you want.

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Life in Anaheim

Anaheim is a city in the famed Orange County, California. It has the 10th highest population in California and the highest in the entire county. The booming Platinum Triangle is known for the abundance of amenities like 3 theme parks including Disneyland. In fact, the Disneyland Resort is the city's main source of tourism and employment. Some companies with Anaheim headquarters include the Anaheim Memorial Medical Center, AT&T, Banco Popular, the parent company of Carl's Jr. and Green Burrito named CKE Restaurants as well as that of Fisker Automotive. Fisker Automotive currently offers some of the best and most attractive electric cars on the market. Owner and designer Henric Fisker is responsible for the designs of other companies like Aston Martin's DB9 and Vantage as well as James Bond's BMW Z8.


Anaheim is home to the NHL Ducks professional hockey team and the Anaheim Angels professional baseball team who won the world series in 2002. There's also an outstanding convention center that attracts business visitors to Anaheim. Anaheim is a popular Los Angeles suburb because it has a relatively low crime rate and outstanding attractions. The Grove of Anaheim, or "The Grove," is a famous venue that hosts a wide variety of events including music and comedy acts like the Blue Collar Comedy Tour and Rob Zombie. Anaheim is also the home to a number of notable celebrities like Tiger Woods and Gwen Stefani.

Given its rapid population and economic growth, Anaheim, California lawyers are on the cutting edge of emerging legal fields, but also well-versed in the more "classic" legal fields - dealing with legal issues that ordinary people are likely to face. On top of this, Anaheim is a short distance from the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Southern California. Each of these universities has a very well-regarded law school, turning out high quality lawyers every year.

If you are in the area, and have a legal issue, you would do well to give an Anaheim, California lawyer a call.

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