How to Deal with Problems Concerning the City Planning Commission

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“I live in El Monte, California. I have been given wrong information by city employees and have been caused over 25000 in damages. I have been trying to subdivide a property that I own for over a year. The first time I submitted the plans to the planning commission of El Monte, they rejected it, citing 2 issues. I went back to my architect and fixed those 2 issues and went back to the planning commission and they denied it again, making up another issue that was not there in the original denial 3 months prior. Also, the planning department said it at the planning commission that the planning dept allows the applicants to take an average of the 2 sides of a property, if the lot is odd shaped. He said that it was a common practice. The law says the lot depth on both sides of the property should be 100 feet. On my lot, one side is 110 feet deep and the other is 96 feet deep, of which the average comes to 102. The commissioner said that the average comes less than 100 feet and so they denied my case. As stated above, this was not an issue in the first hearing. The reason why they flipped is because I got into an argument with the mayor of El Monte a week before the 2nd planning commission hearing and he was pissed off. I also have had 5 or so claims against the city in the last 4 years that I have lived here, based on harassment, discrimination and wrong information given. Please help. Can you give me a name and number of an attorney in southern California, who can help me with this case. I am willing to spend money but I am not very rich.. Please advise?”

[NOTE: Articles and answers on DearEsq., while written and published by lawyers, do not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by your reading of this information. You should always consult with an attorney for any legal situations.]

I don’t know a specific attorney in your area that I could refer you to, but you should be looking for an attorney who specializes in real estate and/or land use. Having experience with the particular city you’re dealing with may or may not be an advantage.

I can’t advise you on your specific situation, but I can say that in my experience, nine times out of ten it is cheaper in the long run to try to work with the city departments than to fight against them. I’m not saying that they’re right (or wrong), just that the process for fighting them is long and expensive, and often it’ll be cheaper to work with them and make some compromises.

An attorney who specializes in this area can review your particular situation and advise you what the likely costs are of going forward versus trying to fight, and whether your situation might be the exception where fighting is the better option.

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Author: House Attorney

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