How do we lease when zoning doesn’t allow it?

We are a small school that found a new site but they aren’t zoned for school.
Can we call ourselves something else instead of a school and is it a good idea?

Asked on May 6, 2016 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

No, you can't just "call" yourself something other than a school, and trying to do so would be a very bad idea. What you call a land use is irrelevant: the law looks past the title or name at the reality of what you are doing. If you are a school, it doesn't matter if you call yourself a caterer or a consulting business: you are still a school. Your use will be banned; if you were able to start operations before they found you out, you will be forced to discontinue; and since you lied to the government in your application and in registering your use, you could potentially face criminal liability, too.

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