Land Use

Getting results through effective advocacy, negotiation and litigation

JMBM Land Use & Zoning Practice - Government, Land Use, Environment and Energy (GLUEE)

Best Law Firms BadgeFrom the city council to the U.S. Congress, companies need help navigating the legislative and regulatory processes that can affect them, as well as a strong voice to advocate their position before governmental bodies. Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell has the experience to represent a wide range of industries, businesses, trade groups and individuals at every level of government, particularly throughout the state of California. We understand how government works, with team members whose substantial political and regulatory experience includes the former principal policy maker for the Los Angeles City Zoning/Building and Safety Commission.

Our particular strength is handling all permitting and compliance issues for clients seeking to locate and develop new sites, relocate or expand operations. JMBM’s land use and zoning lawyers are knowledgeable, skilled negotiators who can produce results when dealing with local governments, including boards of supervisors, city councils, zoning boards and planning and redevelopment agencies, as well as state and federal agencies that oversee environmental and land use issues. Projects that we have helped move through the approval process include hotels, shopping centers, theaters, office buildings, residential developments and apartment complexes, plus a wide range of such industrial projects as mines, energy plants and manufacturing facilities.

Land Use Approvals

We have the public policy skills and contacts to represent private and public landholders and developers before city councils, county boards, state planning commissions and other local, state and federal administrative bodies. We help them obtain permits and other entitlements, and are effective at helping build broad public support. JMBM lawyers are equally skilled at challenging adverse administrative actions, and will vigorously defend approved projects if they hit political or regulatory snags.

The full range of compliance approvals that we facilitate encompasses:

  • Zoning and planning
  • Project permits and entitlements
  • Variances and conditional use permits
  • Development incentives
  • Takings, eminent domain and inverse condemnation
  • Historic preservation
  • Environmental Impact Reports (EIR)
  • The California Environmental Quality and National Environmental Policy Acts
  • Redevelopment and adaptive reuse approvals

Land Use Planning

We work closely with local government officials to make certain the land for real estate and development projects has the appropriate zoning and required permits and approvals. Our lawyers analyze local land development codes, zoning ordinances, development regulations and other restrictions and requirements to ensure that they do not conflict with a client’s proposed project.

Such efforts form a solid foundation for obtaining the necessary government permits and zoning approvals. They also enable our team to effectively negotiate development agreements, easements, licenses and other agreements that may be required for project completion.

Land Use Follow-through

We are skilled at negotiating development agreements to lock into place the necessary entitlements, permits and land use designations for our clients’ projects. Our lawyers regularly prepare development pacts with local redevelopment agencies to secure municipal financing and long-term development rights, and excel at applying unique local or regional statutes such as California’s Subdivision Map Act. Once zoning approval is set, we often prepare reciprocal easement agreements, operating covenants and other commercial and residential development documents that facilitate project completion.

Land Use Disputes

Land use disputes can involve straightforward issues of municipal annexation, subdivision regulation, redevelopment law, development agreements and impact fees. In such instances, clients rely on our experience with local administration of land use regulations, including advice on the interpretation and enforcement of zoning regulations. We have particular strength in the challenging task of zoning appeals, and regularly go before zoning boards and political authorities to demonstrate the change of use prerequisites necessary for rezoning.

For more complex controversies, JMBM has extensive trial and appellate experience in land use litigation. A decade ago, our lawyers argued the high-profile permitting and takings case, Landgate, Inc. v. California Coastal Commission, before the California Supreme Court, and we have litigated many other land use disputes involving:

  • Condemnation and inverse condemnation
  • Compensation for regulatory takings and state land acquisitions
  • Restrictions on development of environmentally sensitive lands
  • Validity of exactions and development fees
  • Zoning for controversial uses, such as quarries
  • Hearings and protests over the adequacy of zoning procedures

Environmental Regulation

We offer comprehensive strategies for clearing the many environmental hurdles that confront all proposed projects before, during, and after development. Our regulatory experience includes wetlands permitting, inspection and compliance reviews, Clean Air and Water Act compliance and permits, and effective negotiation with state and federal agencies.

Environmental approvals are particularly complex for the many projects we represent in California where, as part of the development process, we prepare and review documentation to ensure compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the regulations of the California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) and the guidelines of numerous other agencies, including the:

  • California Air Resources Board
  • California Coastal Commission
  • Department of Toxic Substances Control
  • California Energy Commission
  • California Department of Fish & Wildlife
  • California State Lands Commission
  • California State Mining and Geology Board
  • Public Utilities Commission
  • Integrated Waste Management Board
  • California Resources Agency
  • California Office of Historic Preservation
  • California State Water Resources Control Board
  • California Regional Water Quality Control Boards
  • Various air quality management districts including:
    • South Coast Air Quality Management District
    • Bay Area Air Quality Management District
    • Feather River Air Quality Management District
  • U.S. Department of the Interior
    • U.S. Bureau of Land Management
    • U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
    • Bureau of Indian Affairs
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
  • U.S. Forest Service

Public Policy Advocacy

Because any company or organization can be directly affected by governmental activity, you need a strong presence among decision makers and vigilant cultivation of support from legislative and regulatory bodies that have an impact on your operations. Whether clients have industry specific concerns involving healthcare, insurance, telecommunications, gaming or land use, or broader issues of tax and regulatory policy, we have the knowledge of and contacts at the local, state and federal levels to address such legislative or regulatory problems.

Our lawyers regularly represent clients before administrative agencies and legislative bodies in hearings, rulemaking proceedings and compliance disputes. We are also proactive and get involved in proposed and pending state, county and city legislation and plans to adopt or amend agency rules. You also benefit from our ability to work with policy stakeholders (from media outlets to community activists), both those who are sympathetic to your interests and those whose concerns could be disruptive unless skillfully addressed.

Land use cases and projects

Selected Development Projects
Selected Land Use Litigation Cases
Selected CEQA Litigation Experience

Successes