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Land Use, Zoning and Planning Law in California

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

Local governments will typically 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 various different purposes - but it its major 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 considerably.

Zoning laws usually 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 Modesto, California's Zoning Laws?

Suppose you find that some condition on your land is in violation of Modesto, California's zoning laws. In cases like this, you have quite a few 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 considerably interfere with your use of your property, this is likely the ideal course of action.

Occasionally, however, a landowner wants to make improvements on their property which might constitute a slight violation of Modesto, 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.

You are also protected if your land is currently in complete compliance with local zoning regulations, but the area where your land sits is re-zoned, and your property is suddenly not in compliance with the new zoning regulations. Usually, these new regulations cannot be utilized to force you to change existing conditions on your property. No laws can be applied retroactively, under the U.S. Constitution. Of course, if you make any improvements on your land after the law changes, you'll have to comply with the new law.

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How Can a Modesto, 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 Modesto, California real estate attorney will greatly improve one's chances.

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Life in Modesto

Modesto is a city in Stanislaus County, California. As of 2009, it has a population 211,000, making it the 17th most populous city in California.

Modesto was founded in 1870, as a stop along the new railroad that connected Los Angeles and Sacramento. Modesto's economy is based almost entirely around agriculture, and the other industries that support the agricultural industry. During World War II, Modesto, California was a major source of food for the war effort.

Unfortunately, Modesto is burdened with a high crime rate, and a struggling economy with chronic unemployment well above the national average. However, Forbes Magazine has ranked it fairly highly in its "best bang for your buck" ratings, suggesting that Modesto's real estate market is an excellent destination for bargain-hunters. During the 2000s, the downtown area of Modesto was revitalized and modernized, with significant additions made to the Gallo Center for The Arts, as well as many other improvements.

If you live in Modesto, California and need an attorney, you're in luck. Modesto, California lawyers can handle just about any type of legal problem they're presented with.


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