Land Use

Turning a client’s development vision into reality on the ground can be a daunting task that Larsen, Willis & Woodard can help you through. Larsen, Willis & Woodard has assisted clients with obtaining permits, approvals and other rights relating to the changed uses of land. We have worked on some of the largest transactions on the West Coast, including land use and environmental review of two multi-hundred-million-dollar luxury resort hotels right on California’s coastline, proposed professional sports stadiums, as well as the land use and water rights relating to California’s wine industry.
Because land use issues are frequent targets for litigation, Larsen, Willis & Woodard will help direct the land use approval process in a way that maximizes deal value while minimizing litigation risk.

Larsen, Willis & Woodard has defended and prosecuted a broad range of land use actions. Unlike many other law firms, we have represented “all sides” in land use litigation, including developers and property owners, local governments and environmental and nonprofit organizations. We make every effort to resolve disputes during the administrative proceedings, but where litigation is unavoidable, we have the experience, creativity and resources that our clients require to prevail in these unique proceedings, both in state and federal courts.
Specializing in litigating CEQA claims, the most common cause of action in a land use lawsuit, Larsen, Willis & Woodard handles projects from inception through hearing on approval. In addition, when necessary, we litigate CEQA claims throughout California. In addition, we also frequently handle legal challenges relating to general plan and zoning consistency, spot zoning, vested rights, compliance with historic preservation laws, and the legality of fees and exactions imposed on projects. Our attorneys also have significant expertise litigating the constitutional claims (both federal and California) that often accompany statutory causes of action.

The cases we litigate often involve one or more of these local, state and federal statutes:

  • Brown Act
  • California Coastal Act
  • California Endangered Species Act
  • California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)
  • California Planning and Zoning Law
  • California Community Redevelopment Law
  • California Subdivision Map Act
  • Clean Air Act
  • Clean Water Act
  • Federal Department of Transportation Act
  • Federal Endangered Species Act
  • Mello-Roos Act
  • National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
  • National Historic Preservation Act
  • Permit Streamlining Act
  • Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA)
  • Section 1983 of the Federal Civil Rights Act

Contaminated Land or Water – Our attorneys are frequently retained by clients who face administrative or judicial enforcement actions in connection with alleged contamination of industrial sites. We confer with the client and the engineering consultants retained to perform the remedial investigation and feasibility study designed to determine what cleanup, if any, is required. Our attorneys also negotiate with the agencies involved in efforts to avoid court action. If a settlement cannot be reached, litigation over the extent of the cleanup or the amount of penalties may follow. We have also defended judicial actions brought by neighboring residents alleging that they have suffered personal and property injury from contamination.

Wetlands & Endangered Species – Larsen, Willis & Woodard provides strategies for navigating the complex permitting process for wetlands and endangered species at both the federal and state levels. Our attorneys are known for their ability to identify and overcome a host of regulatory obstacles blocking the development of projects. We assist clients with the conception and implementation of compliance programs. Our attorneys have comprehensive experience at every stage of the permitting process, from undertaking due diligence and developing permitting and mitigation strategies to preparing application and mitigation materials and negotiating with agencies. In the event of litigation, we help to develop sound records and advise clients on cost-effective strategies.

We also have advised clients on the many aspects of endangered species law, including incidental take authorizations from consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service under Section 7 of the federal Endangered Species Act, including biological assessments and biological opinions; Habitat Conservation Plans (“HCP”) and incidental take authorization from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under Section 10 of the federal Endangered Species Act; the designation of critical habitat under the federal Endangered Species Acts; and the listing and de-listing of endangered species under both the federal and California Endangered Species Acts.

Air Quality – Larsen, Willis & Woodard represents clients before local and/or regional air quality regulating agencies such as the South Coast Air Quality Management District. Our lawyers defend clients against enforcement efforts by these agencies as well as assisting our clients advocating rule making/changing before these agencies. In addition, we represent our clients before the California Air Resources Board as well as the United States Environmental Protection Agency on air quality issues.

Don’t see your particular concern or issue listed above? We can still help you! Give us a call or send us a message today – we look forward to partnering with you!