How Can I Have My House Plans Approved By the County?

Note: The DearEsq free 'ask a lawyer' site is offered as a free informational service to the public and is not intended as legal advice. Laws vary from state-to-state, and in addition every situation is unique, and relevant facts may not be known. The answer to the question posed below may not apply to in your state or to your situation. For legal advice in your state and your situation you should consult with an attorney in your state who is familiar with the rules and laws in your state.

In California, is it legal for the County to demand a grant of easement, in exchange for having our house plans approved, or a building permit issued? They already have a forty-foot easement, but they said they decided they need 4 more feet. Is this legal? Are we entitled to some compensation other than the approval of our permit? This was originally a 5 acre lot. They have already taken almost a whole acre for road easements without any prior consent or compensation, and without our prior knowledge. We are hesitant to sign this, but also want our permit issued.

In general, municipalities have a fair amount of discretion in granting or denying permits, and it is not unusual for them to put conditions or requirements on their issuance. This is especially true if you are doing anything that requires a variance.

To definitively answer your question, you would need to review the applicable local ordinances in some detail with respect to the particular request you are making.

The practical answer, however, is this: Is their demand enough of a burden that it’s worth suing over? If the answer is no, then most likely you will be stuck with it. An attorney can sometimes be helpful in discussions with the County, but more often than not, only the threat of a lawsuit will change their mind.