How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask N Cal Attorney Your Own Question
N Cal Attorney
N Cal Attorney, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 9332
Experience:  Since 1983
Type Your Real Estate Law Question Here...
N Cal Attorney is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

I am looking at buying some land that is zoned

Customer Question

I am looking at buying some land that is zoned "agricultural/commercial" in San Mateo County (CA).
I am planning on fencing the land in and then using the land to grow some food (agricultural) and possibly also hold some consultation services (commercial). I was also hoping to keep my RV on site and occasionally stay in the RV. The questions are:
1) How can I find out if this would be legal or not as far as zoning without talking to the zoning committee about my plans.
2) If the county suspects that I am actually occasionally living on the space, what legal recourse do they have to determine or actually prove this? Is it really possible for a zoning committee to demonstrate that you are living somewhere if you have other places to stay and if you keep your affairs on the land private?
3) If they can manage that, what legal action can they take? And in practice, does this actually happen much?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  N Cal Attorney replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your question.

How large is the parcel?

Is it within a town or city, or in an unincorporated part of the county?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
It is just a tad over 2 acres, and it is in El Grenada
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Although Google Maps seems to believe it is in Half Moon Bay)
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
We're working on finding out the actual zoning code, but the agent is slow. So far we've been told that it's "Agricultural/Commercial"
Expert:  N Cal Attorney replied 1 year ago.

El Grenada is in an unincorporated part of the County, I'm looking for the regulations.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
We're hoping to build a fence around most of the property, and also put down a few shipping containers to store the equipment, but we're having a hard time figuring out what is legal. We're trying to avoid building any permanent structures so we can avoid dealing with the code issues. That's the main reason for putting the RV on the site, it gives us an office + toilet + shade without building a building.
Expert:  N Cal Attorney replied 1 year ago.

I found them at

but none of them are called Agricultural/Commercial.

Are you sure of the zoning designation?

Do you mean A-1?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I'm looking at that as well. Can it have two zones, or would they make a zone for that? I found a zoning map for Half Moon Bay, but it shows pretty much all of El Grenada as Industrial, which can't be right. I can't find a zoning map for El Granada.
Expert:  N Cal Attorney replied 1 year ago.

Does this help?

Do you have a property tax bill that mentions the zoning designation?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I don't have a tax bill, we haven't purchased the property.
I think I found the zoning though: RM-CZ/DR/CDDoes that make sense?
Expert:  N Cal Attorney replied 1 year ago.

I do not see that designation anywhere in the county zoning regulations.

You can get a solid answer from a local land use lawyer.

You can get a free consultation from some of the land use/zoning lawyers in the County listed at

I do not expect that you will have any problems using an RV as a part time office/kitchen/bath room on land zoned for agriculture. It is not a permanent structure so you would not need a building permit. The zoning regulations do not list parking as a permitted use for any of the zoning designations but almost everyone in the County parks a vehicle on their parcel.

Please follow up on this with a local attorney who can decipher the zoning designation and advise you of your rights.

I hope this information is helpful.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
In the 2012 zone regs (the link you have above) I see that RM-CZ is "Resource Management Coastal Zone"And DR = Design Review districts and CD is Coastal Development.Looking at RM-CZ, on chapter 36 page 2 (36.2) which is page 658 in the pdf (I think), it says:"Excluded from this definition of development and from Development Review Permits
and Procedures are...fences under 4 feet in height constructed of single wire or open wood rail..."Does that mean we can't put a privacy fence around the property without a permit?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
thanks for all your help - if this is outside your scope, I'll use the findlaw link above)
Expert:  N Cal Attorney replied 1 year ago.

I don't know why my computer failed to find RM-CZ but I'm glad you were able to find it. And yes, it says you would need a permit to build a fence over 4 feet tall. Any development in a coastal zone is more complicated and usually more expensive than inland developments.