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Planning and Zoning Regulations

The General Plan is the constitution for land use within a particular city or county. There are seven elements required in a General Plan:

  1. Land use

  2. Circulation

  3. Conservation

  4. Housing

  5. Noise

  6. Public safety

  7. Open space

*Cities along the coast must also address coastal development and protection of natural resources.

Zoning works in a similar manner as a General Plan with regard to classifications where zoning ordinances divide a city into different geographic zones, in identifying the uses that may or may not be made on each parcel.

Typical zoning codes apply to uses for:

  • agriculture,

  • commercial,

  • manufacturing,

  • single-family homes,

  • planned developments and more.

Each zoning district lists allowances and limitations for each parcel. A second list includes conditional uses which are not allowed as a matter of right, but may be allowed if the owner obtains a special permit. The local planning commission often administers such permits. Further, any use that is not listed as allowed or conditional is prohibited by the zoning code.

Zoning ordinances often list size restrictions such as height limitations or minimum lot sizes. Where a city or county changes the zoning of a parcel so that the existing uses are no longer allowed by the new zoning, those existing activities become nonconforming uses. If the nonconforming uses constitute a nuisance, they may not be continued.

Do you have questions regarding your property's zoning ordinance? If so, please contact Aziz Legal by phone at (408) 203-4627 or email us at

This article is merely informational and is not intended to be used as legal advice. Use of any information from this article is for general information only and does not represent personal legal or tax advice, either express or implied. Readers are encouraged to consult Aziz Legal, or another attorney, for any specific legal matters.

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