View Full Version : Property Law Question

Carole Kaufman
10-06-2003, 07:52 AM
We currently have a disagreement with our city regarding which side of
our house is the front, rear and sides. We want to add onto our
house, but we can only do so if the 'logical' side is designated the
legal side. Right now the planners say "it must be the rear because
of setback reqmts". As a result, they are disapproving the balcony we
wish to add to the side of our house (which they consider to be the

Our house is located on corner lot, 50' x 102', but there's a rounded
corner. As a result, total lot size is 4,950 even though the minimum
lot size for a corner house is legally 5,914 (and was at the time the
house was built). The assessed lot size is 8,250, but that is because
the lot contains street and street righaway property. The city's
definition of lot size specifically states it does not include right
of way property.

Our house spans the length of the lot. The driveway, address, front
door is on the side of the house which is the logical front, which has
a 16' setback. On the opposite side, there is a 5' setback. On the
short widths of the house, there is a 20'-24' setback from the other
street, and a 20' setback on the opposite end.

The elevation plans signed off by the city 20 years ago clearly show
the front as being the logical front, the rear being the logical rear.

The setback reqmts in our city (Hayward, CA) are:

Front: 20'(v. logical 16')
Side: 5' (v. logical 20', 20')
Rear: 20' (v. logical 5')
Min lot size for a corner is 5,914 (v. our 4950)
Min lot width for a corner is 60' (v. our 50)

Front is defined in the ordinance: "A line separating the lot from the
street right of way. In the case of a corner lot, the owner may
designate the front lot line of said lot at time of initial
construction of primary use.

Rear is defined in the ordinance: "The lot line which is opposite and
most distant from the front lot line; and in the case of an
irregularly shaped lot, a line 10 feet in length within the lot, and
any line closest to being parallel to and at the maximum distance from
the front lot line. In the case of a corner lot, the rear lot line is
opposite the front property line unless the Planning Director
determines otherwise where there is a reasonable alternative."

Side is defined as being neither front nor rear.

In addition, the code notes:

"No vehicle shall be parked or stored in a required side yard with the
following exceptions..." with the exceptions being boats and RVs. But
by the city's definition, our driveway is a 'side yard'....

Is there any legal argument around the fact that the city approved the
plans which labeled which side was which, and therefore regardless of
the current setbacks, it cannot be determined the Planning Director 20
years ago declared the logical sides as front and back? In addition,
since our house doesn't conform to lot size requirements, making part
of it conform now, while other parts still don't, doesn't mean that
the intent was around conformance.

Any and all suggestions (besides giving up and moving) would be

[email protected]

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