Real Estate Law
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Hi - my name is ***** ***** I'll be glad to assist.
My best guess is that the city is attempting to "grandfather" in the new staircase since it is replacing the old one. Whether or not that is proper would depend on the city code and what it says about replacing old structures, etc. But, the bot***** *****ne here is that you're going to have to file a request to appear before the city board that oversees this (whether it is the city council or if the building code division has its own board) and have them explain to you its decision and also provide documentation to prove that it has the authority to allow this to be done given that doing so will infringe on your rights and the 20' set back provision.
If the city has the authority to approve this, then it is what it is. However, you certainly should consider demanding that the authority provide you with proof that it can take this action.
If you're not satisfied with the response you get from the board, you can always file a lawsuit against the city for a "writ of mandamus" that requests that the court FORCE the authority to follow its rules and enforce them as written.