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Land Use, Zoning and Planning Law in California

The laws controlling how land can and cannot be used in La Mesa, 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 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 La Mesa, California's Zoning Laws?

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

First of all, and most simply, the owner could just fix the violation. If the violation isn't very significant, 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 La Mesa, 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.

Furthermore, 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 La Mesa, 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 La Mesa, California real estate attorney to help.

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Life in La Mesa

La Mesa, California is a city in San Diego County, California. It has a population of about 57,000 people.

La Mesa is a quiet, middle-class community. Its median household income of about $55,000 per year, which is roughly in line with the national average. About 9% of its population lives below the poverty line, which is somewhat less than the national average. La Mesa, California directly borders the city of San Diego, which is the second-largest city in California, and a major economic hub for the area, with industries like shipbuilding, ports, tourism, and the military all having a large presence in the area. 

These industries employ people in a wide range of fields, including many white-collar professionals such as La Mesa, California lawyers. 

Many of these professionals live in La Mesa, California to take advantage of the quiet, affordable nature of a suburb, while still having access to the amenities and economic opportunity that only a big city can offer.

If you live in La Mesa, California, and need legal services, chances are good that there's a La Mesa, California attorney who can help. 

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