Good News for Most

Posted on November 13 2009 by admin

After several years of not being successful in getting clear and unambiguous answers about how GP2020 (GPU) will affect my property it seems that if hundreds of concerned landowners call, write, email, and show up at meetings the importance on clarifying things and supplying statements that commit the DPLU gets elevated.

Prior to the meeting on Nov. 6th my emails were not even replied to now I (we) get quick and thorough explanations.

Please see my usual legal IanaL (I am not a Lawyer) disclaimer at the bottom.

From the answers below I come to the conclusion that my current legal buildable lots are not in any danger of being made unbuildable.  If anyone wants to return their parcel to a condition where it was several separate parcels in the past a NEW clarification has been sent to me that makes this either more difficult or impossible. I am still trying to understand the nuances of this for some folks that for example have what was at one time 3 three 10 acre parcels and is now listed as one 30 acre parcel.

Below is an edited for readability exchange that has occurred in emails between Mr. Lardy of the DPLU and myself.  None of the wording has been changed only the nonessential introductions and closings. All emails were copied to Mr, Muto the Chief of Land Use for Advance Planning.  He is one of the seven Chief’s of land use in the DPLU on their org chart here


Under what conditions could Policy G-3 be modified or revoked?  Will any of the GPU or revised zoning ordinance modify it?

Mr. Lardy,

Policy G-3 is a guide that summarizes how DPLU enforces state law pertaining to Subdivisions and Land Use.  The General Plan Update is not modifying the Policy

Per policy G-3 D.1.b

The parcel was described on a recorded Grant Deed, or other bonafide conveyance document recorded prior to the date the parcel was first zoned the zone classification which caused it to be undersized. The deed or document must also be recorded prior to February 1, 1972 (see Paragraph C-3 and -4, above). If the parcel was created by deed, recorded prior to February 1, 1972, but in violation of The Zoning Ordinance, the owner must be successful in obtaining a zone reclassification or a zone variance.

Does this mean if a parcel was four legal parcels prior to February 1, 1972 but now is shown as a single parcel that each legal parcel that existed before can be a legal parcel now?

Mr. Lardy,

To answer this question we would need additional information, there is a difference between a “Legal Lot” and an “Assessors Parcel Number”.  A legal lot could be made up of several Assessors Parcel Numbers and an Assessors Parcel Number could be multiple Legal Lots.  The best descriptions we have that explains the difference is located in the handout located here: Our Zoning Counter is the experts in this policy, and can also confirm the legal lot status of a parcel (by issuing a Certificate of Compliance, which involves a fee) they can be contacted at 858-565-5981.

Some of the following may be out of your area of expertise or departmental authority to answer but if you can direct me to those that can assist with the following; many questions may be cleared up.

The (GPU) Faq’s are helpful but the answer in  #14 worded;

“However, lot size requirements are just one factor in lot development. Additional requirements, such as sewage disposal, site constraints, access, emergency service availability, building and environmental approvals may limit your ability to develop your lot. “

causes a lot of questions about every other policy or ordinance that could negatively impact current rights to build.

Will any of the water, septic, fire access road surface requirements, or other conditions that are proposed to be stricter be applied to present legal parcels or will they only be applied to parcels that apply for subdivision?

Mr. Lardy,

After consultation with others, there are not additional conditions that will be applied to present legal parcels as they undergo building permits by the General Plan Update.  The General Plan update will result in changes to regulations, such as the subdivision ordinance, and will pertain to new subdivision projects.


Are there any parts of the proposed General Plan Update that would cause a more onerous situation to obtain a building permit than now exists on a legal building lot?  If so what part of the General Plan would cause the more onerous situation?

Mr. Lardy,

As we stated above, there are no parts in the proposed general plan update that will cause a more onerous situation to obtain a building permit on an existing legal lot.


(For instance : My interpretation of 67.722 A.1. is that a current legal parcel is exempt from the 20 acre minimum in Ocotillo Wells so that would be no for the Groundwater ordinance.)

Mr. Lardy,



Will the proposed General Plan Update allow any other policies (zoning, environmental impact, etc.) to be changed that the current General Plan would not allow that would cause a more onerous situation to obtain a building permit than now exists on a legal building lot?

Mr. Lardy,

There are no parts in the proposed general plan update that will cause a more onerous situation to obtain a building permit on an existing legal lot.


If so what are those policies?

If no additional burdens are place on the right to build on a legal building lot than exist now is there a single document, policy, or code that states that (Grandfather clause) or are the grandfather clauses in each policy or ordinance such as determination of legal parcel G-3 and the Groundwater Ordnance?

Mr. Lardy,

The department currently does not have a single document summary of how legal parcels are treated, which should explain the “Grandfathered” status of these parcels to construct single family homes, regardless of the General Plan density.  The best information we do have is in the collection of documents we have sent you.  This is something the department has acknowledged can be improved and as we are available, can look to develop in the future.

Follow-up email


I once again thank you for your time and effort expended on answering my questions.  Your answers have been clear and to the point.  I have sought clarification on these issues for over three years and have always received an answer that had a “however” or “but” contingency still attached to it such as FAQ #14.  I am interpreting your answers here that someone owning a legal buildable lot today has nothing to fear from the GPU as far as maintaining building rights are concerned.  This is an incredible relief.

It is also my understanding that the GPU will make it more difficult for many to split their lots or that additional conditions will be placed upon that split or subdivision in the future as a result of the GPU and its implementation.

I have two remaining questions and two suggestions.

May I forward on your email in entirety or part to others?

May I publically post your answers to clarify these issues in a blog?

Mr. Lardy:

We are OK with you forwarding these e-mails to interested parties and posting the responses on a blog.


My first suggestion is to not allow your very well stated answers and collected documentation to be spent only on me but to see if this clarification can be put into the faq’s and that section of the faq’s be the very first explanations.  Linking from those faq’s to the specific policies and ordinances that have the exemption (Grandfather) clauses would also be very helpful for anyone wanting to follow the process.

Mr. Lardy:

It is a good suggestion to include more links into the Frequently Asked Questions, I can work on doing that and reposting them, but it will probably have to happen after the hearings next week.

The second suggestion is to arrange for some type of notification to be included with each parcels tax bill.  I can attest to the fact that very few folks actually have internet access or read the local papers. The tax rolls are probably the best list of interested stakeholders and informing them of the GPU would seem to be the prudent path.  (After the Sunrise Powerlink notification packages were received a high bar has been set by landowners on their desire to be notified and what level of information they have come to expect.)

Mr. Lardy:

Lastly, we do realize that it has been a long time since a countywide mail out has been completed on the General Plan Update, but two countywide mail outs have been undertaken in the past, as any such effort is very cost and time intensive.  If anyone requested announcement for our hearings (by e-mail or mail) we have continued to inform them of the project status, and new persons can always contact us and we will make sure they receive future information.  We have undergone many attempts to inform residents and property owners of the project over the years, and we also appreciate efforts from persons, such as you, to inform residents and property owners of the General Plan Update.

END OF emails

I will continue to try to collect the grandfather clauses but for the most part if the DPLU honors this email exchange Most of us will not be negatively affected.  Anyone wanting to split their lot may be in a very different situation.

As my Mother always told me there is safety in numbers.  The outpouring from folks apparently got the attention of the DPLU and they started taking explaining their position and stop with the “however” when addressing future building rights.

I know for many of you there was never any knowledge of any change in how Ocotillo Wells is being classified at the DPLU prior to a couple of weeks ago.  I do not know how this is all perceived by many of you but I have been frustrated for some time with the wishy-washy answers from zoning and planning over the past several years.  I have considered selling my property but felt very unethical in passing the problem along to someone without full disclosure.  With the help of everyone the DPLU seems to now take this seriously.

My original intent for a Landowners group was to help each other with easement and road issues as well as other community issues that are unique to Ocotillo Wells such as off-road access, stargazing, emergency services, and the like.

On the website I have begun uploading the easements I have collected at It is still a little cumbersome.  To see each one as you have to go through another page and click on it again.

I would really like to see an end to neighbor against neighbor when someone throws up a fence and if we all can collect and put the easements in a single repository that may be a first step to making our access smoother both literally and figuratively.

Please let me know your thoughts or go to the forum and share among yourselves.


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