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Property Law Question

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  • Property Law Question

    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]