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Land Use, Zoning and Planning Law in California

The laws controlling how land can and cannot be used in Live Oak, California are fairly intricate, and can be confusing to laypersons. This should provide a basic overview.

Local governments will normally divide the city or town into sections, called "zones," each of which is designated for a specific use, such as residential homes, commercial businesses, agriculture, manufacturing, etc. This process is known as "zoning."

Zoning serves many different purposes - but it its general one is to increase or preserve property values by ensuring that conflicting uses don't result in legal disputes. Obviously, if you bought a house in a residential neighborhood, and your neighbor could just convert his property into a steel mill, your property's value as a residential lot would decrease substantially.

Zoning laws typically acknowledge the necessities of things like factories, sewage treatment plants, and stockyards, but recognize that such activities shouldn't be done in residential areas.

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

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

It should be evident that the first option you should consider is to correct the violation. If doing this wouldn't cost you very much, or pose a massive inconvenience, you should obviously do this.

What if, however, you've invested a considerable amount of time and money into making an improvement on your property, only to find that it breaks your local zoning laws in some minor way? In this case, you can apply for a variance. This is basically 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 Live Oak, California's zoning laws, a variance will normally be granted.

You also have considerable 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 Live Oak, 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 face 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 help of a seasoned Live Oak, California real estate attorney will greatly improve one's chances.

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