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Land Use, Zoning and Planning Law in California

The laws governing how land can and cannot be used in Dana Point, California are fairly complex, 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 common zoning categories are single family residence, commercial, multi-unit housing, or industrial.

Local governments have several different reasons for enacting zoning laws, ranging from ensuring that residential areas are peaceful and quiet, to protecting property values. For example, 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 don't exist just to protect residential use - it also protects people who engage in other types of use of land, by making sure that they are able to do their business, without bothering neighboring landowners, and thereby avoiding legal disputes.

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

If something on your property is in violation of a Dana Point, California zoning law, the landowner has several options.

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 major inconvenience, you should obviously do this.

What if, however, you've invested a significant amount of time and money into making an improvement on your property, only to find that it violates your local zoning laws in some minor way? In this case, you can apply for a variance. This is essentially an exception to the zoning rules. If declining to enforce these rules would not harm anyone, and would not do much to advance the purpose of Dana Point, California's zoning laws, a variance will usually be granted.

You also have significant protections if a zoning law changes, and you find that the land you've been living on for years is suddenly in violation of the new law. In general, zoning laws cannot apply to structures and uses which were built or commenced before the law was changed. Under the U.S. Constitution, it's not permissible for state or local governments to pass laws which have retroactive effect. You should know, however, that any future changes you make to your property will have to comply with the new zoning law.

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How Can a Dana Point, California Attorney Help?

If you are in the early stages of a major construction or remodeling project on your property, especially if it is in a residential area (where zoning laws tend to be most restrictive), you are likely to encounter one zoning law issue or another. Of course, having read this article, you should now be aware that you have rights when it comes to contesting a zoning law as applied to you. While such contests do not always come out on the side of the landowner, the assistance of a good Dana Point, California real estate attorney will greatly improve one's chances.

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Life in Dana Point

Dana Point, California is situated in the southern area of Orange County, near the western coast.  It is known for its mild climate and warm temperatures, typical of a California coastal city.  Dana Point has a population of over 33,000 and is a favored location for surfing.  It was named after the Dana Point headlands.

Dana Point's city motto is, "Harboring the Good Life", which speaks of both its harbor culture and its laid-back atmosphere.  Popular places to visit include Dana Point Harbor, Salt Creek Beach Park, and Doheny State Beach Park.  These locations provide excellent locations for outdoor activities such as surfing, picnics, and beach sports.  In its early history, Dana Point, California has been described as "the only romantic spot on the coast".

It goes without saying that many of the events and attractions in Dana Point, California revolve around its beautiful beaches.  These include the "Festival of Whales" and the "Tall Ships Festival".  The annual Dana Point Grand Prix is a bike race winding through downtown and continuing on to some spectacular, breathtaking views.  Many of the beach areas also feature local shopping, fine seafood dining, and boutique shops.

Lawyers in Dana Point, California assist the community in a broad range of legal topics.  Some of the legal issues and laws in Dana Point may be specific to the area.  Experienced Dana Point lawyers can provide legal services that are tailored to meet the needs of city residents.

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