Understanding The Difficulties Of Variance And Conditional Use Applications

Zoning Variance Application

The Planning Code, like all zoning law, is based on the principle of reciprocity: all landowners give up some freedom, and all benefit from shared regulations. In some cases, however, a property’s unusual characteristics will qualify it for an exception (a “variance”) from a Planning Code requirement. Variance applications are submitted to the Planning Department and are adjudicated by the Zoning Administrator. Any appeal of a variance application decision will be heard by the Board of Appeals.

Conditional Use Applications

Under the Planning Code, some applications require a detailed application and hearing at the Planning Commission. Notable examples are permits to operate a hotel or, in some circumstances, to demolish residential housing units. Any appeal of a conditional use authorization will be heard by the Board of Supervisors.

Simple, But Complicated

Variance applications and conditional use authorization may appear simple, but there is complexity underneath. These applications are particularly vulnerable to neighborhood opposition at local hearings. Even if the City ultimately approves them, their statements of “findings” may be subject to attack in court unless they are drafted with an eye toward legal defensibility.

Whether you are a developer filing an application or you are a neighbor seeking to oppose an application, the attorneys of Zacks & Freedman, PC can provide the expertise and advocacy to achieve your goals. You can send us a message or call us at 415-956-8100.