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Land Use, Zoning and Planning Law in California

The laws controlling how land can and cannot be used in Fortuna, 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.

Local governments have numerous 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.

While zoning laws appear to be geared just toward protecting residents, they also protect industry, by ensuring that they are free to conduct their business without getting caught up in the numerous legal disputes that would be inevitable if they were closer to a residential area.

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

If a condition on your property breaks the local zoning laws of Fortuna, California, there are a few different solutions.

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

Occasionally, however, a landowner wants to make improvements on their property which might constitute a slight violation of Fortuna, California's zoning laws. In this case, the owner can apply for a variance - an official agreement from the local government to not enforce a certain zoning regulation. Usually, variances are granted when the violation is quite minor, and, enforcing the letter of the zoning law would not do much to advance its broader purpose.

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 Fortuna, California Attorney Help?

If you are in the early stages of a major construction or remodeling project on your property, particularly if it is in a residential area (where zoning laws tend to be most restrictive), you are likely to confront 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 guidance of a reliable Fortuna, California real estate attorney will greatly improve one's chances.

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