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Orange County Land Use Variance Attorney

Orange County Land Use Variance Attorney

Orange County Land Use Variance Attorney

A land variance is a one-time deviation from zoning stipulations in which an exception to existing zoning specifications is requested. It is a request to ignore zoning with good reason and evidence that deems it a positive zoning exception for the property. These types of requests have a higher success rate when supported by legal experience and professional representation by a land use attorney who knows the protocol for a land variance in Orange County and understands how to properly ask for one.

Blake & Ayaz Orange County land use variance lawyers have 60 years of legal experience supporting individuals, businesses, and professional corporations in Orange County. Our legal team understands zoning requirements and can provide legal counsel that can optimize the outcome of your land use variance request and efforts in Orange County.

Our attorneys have a combined 60 years of experience helping out businesses and individuals.

Blake & Ayaz services clients in Santa Ana, Los Angeles, San Diego and Orange County, and throughout California.

Why Do You Need A Land Variance?

If a parcel of land is zoned inconsistently with the way in which the owner of the property wants to use it, the owner may submit an application to their local jurisdiction requesting a variance in the zoning of the property. Each jurisdiction in Orange County, CA has its own rules and regulations for applying for a zoning variance. In most cities and towns, though, property owners submit an application and pay a fee to initiate the rezoning process.

Rezoning Vs. Variances

Following the application submission for a rezoning request, the property owner will have an opportunity to present the reasons for requesting a rezoning, and the owner may submit supplemental evidence and visual aids that support their request.Supplemental material may include the following:

  • Surveys
  • Photographs
  • Drawings
  • Computer renderings
  • Environmental trajectories
  • Reports
  • 3D models
  • Statements from professionals with valid and relevant credentials

Materials to support a rezoning request can be anything that supports the argument that a rezoning of the land would better serve the environment, the community, the economy, the neighborhood, and the area in general.

The property owner should aim to communicate the proposed plan in the most comprehensive way possible. To make the most impact, individuals, developers, businesses, and professional corporations often hire a construction attorney and various types of engineers to work on a rezoning case. These professional contributors usually end up being key players in assisting with the rezoning process.

If the local jurisdiction denies the owner rezoning, there may be an opportunity to appeal the decision either within the administrative structure of the city government or in a court of law. Regardless, a zoning lawyer is a very good resource to have in cases that seek to appeal a decision not to change a property’s zoning.

A land variance, on the other hand, is a request for deviation from existing zoning requirements. It permits the owner of a property to use their land in contradiction to the current zoning without altering the zoning ordinance. In other words, a variance is a waiver of current zoning requirements.

A variance is typically granted when the owner of the property demonstrates that existing zoning presents an impractical and difficult use of the property and that a rezoning of the property would better serve the land and the community, as well as the environment. To get a variance, the landowner must first submit an application requesting the variance and pay a fee. Normally, the zoning board will review the request first and notify nearby and connecting property owners. The zoning examiner will then hold a hearing determining whether the variance will be permitted. Applicants may be required to go before a municipality governing body, such as the city council, for a final decision on a variance request.

Other Alternative Land Use Modification Methods

Non-conforming uses – A non-conforming use permit allows a property to remain in use as it has been in use, despite the fact that its use violates current zoning requirements. This type of allowance is made when a landowner was using the building or land prior to the zoning ordinances being put into law. A non-conforming use is often grandfathered into zoning but will usually only be allowed if a property is always used in the non-conforming way. Consequently, if a business is not open year-round and the non-conforming use laps during any part of the year, the non-conforming use allowance could be revoked.

Conditional Use Permits

Conditional use permits are similar to variances in that they allow non-permitted use of property despite zoning codes that would otherwise prevent the use in question. Conditional use permits typically require allowance via a public hearing before a political body. Following a public discussion and consideration of the proposed use, conditional use is granted if the body deems the new use of the land would better serve the public interest.

Eminent Domain

Eminent domain grants power to the government to use private property for public use against the will of the private owner. Examples of public use include traditional government responsibilities and initiatives, including the building of roads, public facilities, government buildings, parks, recreational complexes, and other beneficial community venues. In many cases, eminent domain is used when the government wishes to protect a historical property, preserve areas such as wetlands or scenic areas, or if the government deems the property owner is unable to effectively make use of the land in the interest of the community. In some eminent domain situations, the property owner may be able to file suit against the government for compensation of the confiscated property.

How Can A Land Use Variance Lawyer Help You?

Determining the most logical zoning modification option for your land development project can be a grueling process, and you may end up taking a less-than-favorable route. An experienced variance attorney who knows the implications and request requirements of every municipality in Orange County can sensibly determine whether you should apply for a variance or request a rezoning of your property. You may also have other options available that you are unaware of. Some additional ways a construction lawyer can provide assistance to developers, business owners, and other interested parties are below.

  • Review of documents – All documents involved in an application for variance and requests for rezoning must be impeccable when submitted. Mistakes and errors can cost time and money and delay project progress.
  • Assist with appeals and disputing board decisions – If your request is denied or your application is rejected, you can appeal the decision. Appeals have a much higher chance of getting approved when a qualified and reputable land use variance or zoning attorney is involved.
  • Negotiation – If there is an opposing side to your variance request and an opportunity to refute it, a well-versed land use attorney can sometimes help negotiate the resolution to come to a decision that makes everybody happy. Negotiations and deals should never be approached alone without legal representation to protect your interest in land use variance hearings.
  • Explain the laws – A knowledgeable land use attorney knows the difference between important aspects of zoning law, such as the difference between a use variance and a dimensional variance, and they can explain it to you as it applies to your situation.
  • Present an acceptable proposal – A well-written proposal backed by a strong supporting case for your variance request can make a big difference when it comes time to persuade an audience to grant your request. An experienced legal team who knows the type of data and documents that the city wants to see and can advise you as to the most beneficial way to present them can make a positive impact on your land use variance case.
  • Familiar with the Grand Plan – Orange County’s master plan is the Grand Plan. This is a set of laws and regulations that encompasses the entire area and takes into consideration all uses of land and indicates where zoning determinations have been made. When proposing a land use variance in Orange County, it is important to incorporate the Grand Plan into your proposal because even though you’re asking for an exception to the existing zoning, the exception and your projected plans for development must still be in compliance with the General Plan. A land variance attorney knows how to address these considerations when posing a proposal for a variance request or appealing a variance denial.
  • Discuss strategies with other involved parties – Construction attorneys know how to communicate with contractors and architects when forming a strategy for a variance request or variance denial appeal to fill in any gaps in the proposal.

Enlisting The Legal Assistance Of A Land Use Variance Attorney

Variances, as well as rezoning efforts, can allow for new opportunities and possibilities for land use and the developers who own properties with atypical zoning variance allowances. However, these types of battles are sometimes not worth the fight. To get a preliminary opinion on your commercial zoning variance request, speak to a well-qualified land use variance lawyer before making a final decision on your land use variance plans. Contact a Blake & Ayaz Orange County land use attorney to get a professional opinion on your options. We can provide invaluable legal advice for your upcoming development projects and potential land use variance needs.


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