With over 40 years of experience shepherding projects from inception to ground-breaking, we guide our clients through the complex regulatory and political issues associated with the development of real property. Through our expertise in land use and environmental laws and regulations, as well as our strong working relationships with key staff and decision-makers, we provide strategic counsel and obtain results that meet our client’s objectives.
Our practice includes the following:
- General and Specific plan formation and amendments
- Zoning amendments and special district formation
- Use/Conditional Use/Special permits
- Site Plan and Design reviews
- Development Agreements
- Tentative subdivision maps
- Variances, exceptions and deviations
- Certificates of nonconforming uses/vested rights determinations
- Affordable/inclusionary housing compliance
- Formation of assessment districts
We have expertise in the following areas of law related to land use:
- State Planning & Zoning Law
- California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)
- Surface Mining and Reclamation Act (SMARA)
- Subdivision Map Act
- Williamson Act
- Vested rights
- Local ordinances
Project Environmental Review
Taylor & Wiley’s attorneys have extensive familiarity with laws and regulations requiring review and analysis of a project’s environmental effects, including the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). We regularly advise our clients with respect to CEQA and NEPA compliance, and we work with lead agencies to ensure that compliance is achieved, most often analyzing and helping to shape and revise NEPA and CEQA documents. Our goal is to minimize CEQA and NEPA legal challenges and, should such litigation occur, maximizing our client’s probability of success.
Development in California necessitates an in-depth understanding of the laws and regulations which protect wildlife species and their habitats, such as the Federal Clean Water Act, the Federal and State Endangered Species Acts, the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act and the California Fish & Wildlife Code. In addition to advising our clients regarding project compliance with these laws, our firm frequently serves a project-management role with respect to natural resource issues, working closely with regulatory agencies to obtain necessary permits, establish project mitigation, and, when necessary, negotiate resolution of enforcement actions. Our expertise includes:
- Clean Water Act Section 404 Permits and 401 Water Quality Certifications
- Waste Discharge Requirements pursuant to the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Act
- Endangered Species Act, Section 7 consultations
- Compliance with Habitat Conservation Plans and Natural Communities Conservation Plans
- Section 1602 Lake and Streambed Alteration Agreements
- Establishment of conservation easements and mitigation banks
As part of our land use and environmental practice, our attorneys are familiar with the myriad laws surrounding historic and cultural resources, including the National Historic Preservation Act and CEQA/AB 52. On behalf of our clients, we ensure compliance with these laws, participate in consultations with tribal representatives and regulatory agencies, and negotiate agreements regarding mitigation for unavoidable impacts to significant historic and cultural resources.
Land use issues are, by their very nature, contentious. Consequently, despite efforts to avoid litigation, it is inevitable that some development approvals will be challenged in the courts. Taylor & Wiley attorneys regularly appear before trial and appellate courts on behalf of our clients, and have a proven track record of successfully defending development approvals against challenges brought pursuant to CEQA, State Planning & Zoning Law, and the Subdivision Map Act, as well as litigation challenging vested rights.
Due Diligence, Zoning Opinions and Estoppel Certificates
It is essential that potential buyers of real property understand both a site’s options for development, as well as any risks associated with its acquisition. Taylor & Wiley’s attorneys conduct land use and environmental due diligence on behalf of a variety of clients, from developers of specific plans and large retail centers, to mining companies, to clients seeking to acquire natural resource mitigation. Our knowledge of the regulatory and political landscape provide key insights to our clients when determining whether to proceed with a purchase, and, ultimately, a proposed development.