National City, Calif. - Draft Land Use Code

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Figure Out Your Zoning!


Look at a map of National City's proposed zoning changes and learn about what those changes mean for you.



Proposed Land Use Code – The Land Use Code is the primary tool for implementing the policies in the General Plan.

The proposed Land Use Code provides specific definitions for the different kinds of zones in National City, and it outlines general building guidelines as well as design requirements.  It also specifically details what kinds of uses are and are not permitted in the various zones.  In addition, the proposed Land Use Code talks about what happens when buildings and uses do not conform to the zoning regulations.

The proposed Land Use Code has a provision for “Affirmative Termination by Amortization.”  This provision allows the Planning Commission and City Council to decide whether to kick a property owner out because of how the property is currently being used (for example, the property is currently being used for manufacturing but the new land use designation only allows residences), or because of the current physical characteristics of the property itself (for example, the building is one story high but the new land use designation requires the building to be at least three stories high).

The amortization provision says that when a property or the use of the property is no longer allowed because the new land use code changed the zoning requirements, the Planning Commission and City Council will decide, on a case-by-case basis, whether to require the property-owner to “terminate the non-conforming use.”  That could mean no longer using the property in the same way, or it could mean being kicked off of the property altogether.  The Planning Commission and City Council can decide how much time to give the property owner to get out or stop using the property.  The proposed Land Use Code requires that property owners be given a minimum of one year, but the city will decide if a property owner gets more time based on a variety of factors like the cost of the land, the cost of moving and re-establishing somewhere else, and “other relevant factors.”

The city has very little information about what amortization will actually mean for the businesses the City applies it to.  However, there is already an amortization system in place in the Westside Specific Plan area, which is explained in a report called Recommendations for Ranking Properties with Nonconforming Uses in the Westside Specific Area. This report explains the complicated formula the city uses to decide which properties should be “amortized” in the Westside, and how long property owners have before they have to leave or stop using the property.

In addition to amortization, the proposed Land Use Code makes many other changes that will affect your ability to use your property. For example, certain changes may affect your ability to have certain kinds of businesses on your property, to rent your property, or to make changes to your property (like expand or alter your building). You may now need a permit to do things on your property that did not require a permit before. It is important that you take the time to figure out exactly how the changes to the Land Use Code are going to affect you.

If after reviewing the proposed Land Use Code you still have questions about how the changes will affect you, call the National City Planning Department at (619) 336-4310 and ask to speak to someone from the planning staff. It is very important that you understand how the changes will affect you before you go to the City Council hearing. The planning staff should be able to answer any questions you have.

View the proposed changes to the Land Use Code on National City’s website.  You will find amortization in Code Section 18.11.100.D of the proposed Land Use Code.



. LEGAL DISCLAIMER – The Institute for Justice currently represents the Community Youth Athletic Center in a challenge to National City’s 2007 redevelopment plan amendment.  It does not represent anyone else in National City.  This website is NOT offering legal advice or legal services.  This website is designed only as a resource to provide general information to the public.  It does not and cannot provide a recommendation of how these proposed new laws will specifically affect any particular person or what your legal options are.  After reading the information on this website, you may want to hire your own lawyer.  However, the information on this website should NOT be read as an offer of legal advice or legal services or as a guarantee or prediction about the outcome of any particular legal matter. .



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