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Land Use, Zoning and Planning Law in California

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

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

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

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

It should be clear, however, that the ideal solution is to just fix any condition on your property which is in violation of a local zoning law. If the violation is not significant, and correcting it won't significantly interfere with your use of your property, this is likely the ideal course of action.

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 Irvine, 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.

Also, if the zoning laws governing your property have changed, and some aspect of it is now violating the new rules, these changes can generally not be enforced against you, because it would be unfair to apply a new law retroactively.

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How Can a Irvine, 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 dispute will be markedly improved if you hire an experienced Irvine, California real estate attorney to help.

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Life in Irvine

Irvine is a city that has been meticulously planned. That could be why CNN voted it 4th best place to live in the entire United States but there are a number of other reasons like the FBI stating Irvine has the least violent crime in any city with a population over 100,000. Over twice that number live within Irvine city limits and enjoy access to all Irvine has to offer.

Over 50 companies have their world headquarters in Irvine including Taco Bell, Ultimate Ears, Felt Bicycles, LA Fitness, and Meade Instruments. Toshiba Corporations, Samsung Electronics, Kia Motors, Asics, and Shimano all operate their North American Headquarters from Irvine as well. With so many large businesses in Irvine, you'd probably be surprised to find out the University of California, Irvine and Irvine unified School District are still the top two employers in the city. Communications giant Cellco Partnership/Verizon Wireless and medical companies Edwards Lifesciences and Allergan are three other big hitters in the Irvine economy.

There's plenty of opportunity for recreation among Irvine residents and visitors. The City of Irvine offers countless community and neighborhood parks. The Northwood Community Park offers one of the most distinctive sights. The Northwood Gratitude and Honor Memorial is exceptional because it's the first United States memorial to be built before the war was over. Honoring the fallen U.S. military personnel from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, it's also the only memorial that will be updated yearly to display the 5,700+ names. Irvine also hosts the Irvine Global Village Festival celebrating diversity. The festival offers a wide range of exhibitions, entertainment, and food from cultures around the globe.

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