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Land Use, Zoning and Planning Law in California

The laws governing how land can and cannot be used in Hayward, California are fairly confusing, 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 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.

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 several legal disputes that would be inevitable if they were closer to a residential area.

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

If something on your property is in violation of a Hayward, California zoning law, the landowner has various options.

First, and perhaps most apparently, you can correct the violation. If the violation is relatively minor, and correcting it would not cost you much or be a substantial burden, this might be the best way to go.

However, it isn't always practical or affordable to correct a minor violation of a zoning law. For example, 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 Hayward, 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 particular provision of a zoning law to a single violation. These aren't always granted, but usually 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.

You also have substantial 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 Hayward, California Attorney Help?

If you find yourself facing zoning or other land use issues, it's crucial to have good legal advice. A knowledgeable Hayward, 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 Hayward

Hayward, California is a city in Alameda County, California, in the Eastern portion of the San Francisco Bay Area (the "East Bay"). It has a population of 145,000 people. 

Human habitation of the area now known as Hayward, California dates back to at least 6,000 years ago, and probably longer, with various Native American tribes living in the area. In the 19th Century, the first people of European descent settled the area, when Mexican settlers relocated to the Bay Area, at a time when California was still part of Mexico.

Modernly, Hayward, California is home to California State University, East Bay, which is a large public university. This school is particularly known for its excellent programs in business, economics, and education. It also happens to be one of the largest employers in Hayward, and a driving force behind the local economy. Some of the university's graduates have gone on to law school, and are now respected Hayward, California attorneys.

Accordingly, if you need legal advice or information in Hayward, California, chances are good that you will be able to find a local Hayward attorney who can help you with whatever legal issue you might be facing.

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