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Social Issues Can Effect Local Land Use

Land use for real property is rarely considered when potential legislative acts are considered. The resolution of social issues can affect local land use ordinances and regulations, by which a local juridiction controls the legal use of the real property. The most typical examples involve residential and commerical developments. Additionally, local jurisdictions may impose other ordinances or regulations that limit a certain number of business to a specific geographic area (e.g., only a limited number of hair salons may be licensed).

One such example is the legalization of marijuana or medical marijuana by a state. In 1996, California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana.  Currently, there are several pending and possible Propositions to legalize marijuana. 

Without getting into the arguments for and against legalizing marijuana use, what can a local jurisdiction do to address the issues and concerns of residents regarding the production and distribution of marijuana? The answer: pass strict regulations regarding the number, location, signage, and other land use regulations.  

For example, in 2010 and 2011  the County of San Diego approved strict medical marijuana regulatory and zoning ordinances. In 2014, the City of San Diego approved restricting the number of medical marijuana dispensaries to four (4). The restrictions also included specific areas in which the medical marijuana stores could not be placed and distances from certain other land uses such as schools, churches, parks and other dispensaries. Some jurisdictions permit production of marijuana and some do not; but those that do permit the production of marijuana have strict regulations.  

These and other types of land use regulations imposed upon specific segments of real property can affect the surrounding real property uses. It is, therefore, important to consider all aspects of any proposed state statute or proposition including, the impact on land use. 

L. Sue Loftin is the Founder and Shareholder of The Loftin Firm. For questions relating to this blog or any other California real estate, corporate governance, land use, or estate planning matter, contact Ms. Loftin at (760) 814-9649. 

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