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Land Use, Zoning and Planning Law in California

The laws controlling how land can and cannot be used in Belmont, California are fairly intricate, 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. Normally, 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 typically 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 Belmont, California's Zoning Laws?

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

First of all, and most simply, the owner could just fix the violation. If the violation isn't very considerable, and fixing it wouldn't cost very much, this is likely the best and simplest option.

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 Belmont, 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 typically 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.

Additionally, 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 Belmont, 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 disagreement will be markedly improved if you hire an accomplished Belmont, California real estate attorney to help.

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Life in Belmont

Belmont, California is a city in San Mateo County, in the southern portion of the San Francisco Bay Area. It currently has a population of about 25,000 people.

Belmont is known for having one of the most restrictive set of anti-smoking laws in the U.S. In Belmont, smoking is prohibited in all public parks, all workplaces, and all multistory apartment buildings. The law largely owes its existence to lobbying by a group of retirees who were concerned over the health effects of secondhand smoke drifting into their retirement community from outside. While the law is not particularly popular among smokers, non-smokers and public health organizations are overwhelmingly in favor of it.

Because this law imposes new regulations on landlords and business-owners, the lawyers of Belmont, California sometimes have to advise those parties about complying with the law, providing them with a good amount of business.

So, if you live in Belmont, California and are in need of a lawyer, you're in luck. There are plenty of successful and experienced Belmont, California attorneys who can help you with almost any legal issue.

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