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California Land Use and Zoning

You may be wondering how a law firm in Detroit, Michigan has any knowledge about California land use and zoning. The professionals of Dalton & Tomich PLC have been brought in to assist California lawyers, planners and property owners in a myriad of land use and zoning cases that have arisen over the past decade.

We have worked, and continue to work with California attorneys, planners, engineers and property owners in navigating through the various administrative departments and hearing boards involved in California land use and zoning issues. And if your development is denied, or if you oppose a development, we have experienced litigators ready to pursue your claim or objection in federal and state court.

We know that developing land in California is no easy task. Cities and counties “plan” in order to identify important community issues (such as new growth, housing needs and environmental protection), project future demand for services (such as sewer, water, roads, etc.), anticipate potential problems (such as overloaded sewer facilities or crowded roads), and establish goals and policies for directing and managing growth. Local governments use a variety of tools in the planning process, including the general plan, specific plans, zoning and the subdivision ordinance.

California state law establishes a framework for local planning procedures, but cities and counties adopt their own unique responses to the issues they face. Thus, when preparing a site plan, one must be in compliance with state zoning laws, state environmental laws (called CEQA, the California Environmental Quality Act), county planning, city land development codes, and in areas near the Pacific Ocean, the California Coastal Commission. Further, if there is a structure on the land older than 40 years, you will need to address historic preservation laws.

While we do not have a physical office in California, we do work with property owners in developing land in the state. Please feel free to contact a professional at Dalton & Tomich, PLC to discuss your California land use and zoning matters.

We can help you meet your goals.

The attorneys of Dalton & Tomich, PLC have the experience and the knowledge to work with you to develop a legal solution that helps you accomplish your goals.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

It truly depends on the location of the property. The very first thing you should look at is the zoning of the property to make sure it fits within the context of your development. Once the zoning hurdle is addressed, and the proposed use established, we can advise you which administrative processes need to be addressed and then provide an anticipated timeline.

California property owners may run into land use and zoning issues related to CEQA, the California Environmental Quality Act. CEQA is a complex statute with many facets and a scope and application defined by a growing number of California judicial decisions. It was created to inform the development of real property in the state. The first step is to determine the scope of your project to see if the development is exempt from CEQA, not applicable to CEQA through a “negative declaration,” or a project that is within the scope of the law. If the project is within the scope of CEQA, the second step will be to prepare an EIR - an environmental impact review. This is a very comprehensive document which is intended to provide information to the community about the scope of the project and its impact on the local community. At this point, the community can provide input as to the project, address concerns and ultimately place severe limitations and approvals on the same. We help property owners address the CEQA concerns within the administrative processes and judicial actions.

The answer to this depends on the type of use you propose and the zoning designation of the property. Once we gather this information from you, we can provide a budget as to the anticipated cost of development.