The basics of acquiring a zoning variance for your business

On Behalf of | Jan 10, 2023 | Land Use And Zoning

If you’re a business owner, you know that location can make all the difference in our success. And securing the right location in Oakland can be difficult and expensive. You have to not only be diligent in searching out properties that may be right for your business, but you also have to be quick to act on that property before someone else snatches it up.

But if you move too hastily, you might be stuck with a property that doesn’t suit your needs. In fact, the property may end up restricting your business operations more than you ever imagined. This is particularly true if the property is zoned in a way that disallows you from carrying out certain business functions.

If you know how to competently navigate zoning variance laws, you might be in a better position to protect your business interests and maximize your use of the property. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the variance process.

The basics of obtaining a zoning variance

The process starts with a basic application where you specify what kind of variance you’re seeking and why you’re requesting it. You should also include any building plans that may be relevant to the city’s determination to grant or deny the variance. After that, there will be a public hearing on the matter.

At that point, the evaluation process will begin. Here, the city will assess your application to determine whether it should be granted. The city has the ability to grant the variance if the following conditions are met:

  • That abiding by the current zoning regulations would create a practical difficulty or unnecessary hardship that’s counter to the purposes of the zoning regulation.
  • That sticking to the current zoning regulation would deprive you of use of the land that others in similarly zoned properties enjoy.
  • The variance requested will not negatively impact the character or livability of surrounding properties, and the variance won’t harm the public welfare.
  • The variance sought will not constitute the granting of a special privilege inconsistent with similarly zoned properties.
  • The requested variance conforms with applicable design requirements as specified by other codes.
  • The variance complies with the city’s General Plan.

There may be other necessary showings, depending on the type of variance that you seek, which is why you’ll want to thoroughly assess how the code interacts with your set of circumstances if you want to maximize your chances of succeeding on your application.

What if your request is denied?

 If your request is denied, you’ll have the ability to appeal. You’ll have to act quickly here, and you’ll want to be as detailed as possible as to why you think that the denial of your variance request was inappropriate. You’ll want to make sure that you raise every potential issue with your initial request because an appellate review of your application will likely be limited to the decision that was made based on the arguments presented at that point.

Help is available

Zoning issues can be extraordinarily complicated. Yet, the outcome of them can make a huge difference in the success of your business. That’s why you’ll want to be as thorough as possible in your preparation and presentation of a zoning variance request.

If you’re worried about getting tangled up in the intricacies of the applicable code, don’t worry. Experienced real estate legal teams like those at our firm stand ready to help you navigate the process.