Zoning Planning & Land Use Law in California
The laws controlling how land can and cannot be used in Santa Maria, California are fairly perplexing, and can be confusing to laypersons. This should provide a basic overview.
Local governments will usually 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 several 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 significantly.
Zoning also serves the interests of industry, as well as residents. By ensuring that there are places where heavy industry can take place, well-planned zoning regulations will ensure that industrialists are free to practice their trade, and that residents will not be disturbed by those activities, which makes industry more useful by helping it prevent costly nuisance lawsuits.
Possible Outcomes of Boundary and Title Disputes in Santa Maria, California
If a condition on your property breaks the local zoning laws of Santa Maria, California, there are a few different solutions.
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 major inconvenience, you should obviously do this.
Occasionally, however, a landowner wants to make improvements on their property which might constitute a slight violation of Santa Maria, 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. Generally, variances are granted when the violation is very minor, and, enforcing the letter of the zoning law would not do much to advance its broader purpose.
Moreover, if you have been residing on your property for a long time, and made improvements on it that complied with the zoning laws in effect at the time, a new zoning law that would be violated by your prevailing use of your property, the new law cannot be enforced against you. The U.S. Constitution bars the passage of "ex post facto," or retroactive, laws. Once the laws take effect, however, you'll have to comply with the new zoning laws with respect to any new improvements you want to make on your property.
What Can A Santa Maria, California Attorney Do?
If you find yourself facing zoning or other land use issues, it's critical to have good legal advice. A reputable Santa Maria, 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.