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Amara L. Morrison

Amara L. Morrison
Attorney

t: 510.834.6600
f: 510.834.1928
amorrison@wendel.com

Education

Vermont Law School, J.D and Masters of Environmental Law; magna cum laude 

University of Michigan, B.S.

Admissions

State Bar of California

  • Profile
  • Practice Highlights
  • Affiliations
  • Recognition
  • Insights

Amara understands municipal law, land use, and real estate from just about every angle. With more than 25 years of experience as an assistant city attorney, she’s worked closely with public officials and agencies, businesses and developers, and individuals and community groups on everything from approvals to zoning. Valued by clients for her responsive, determined, pragmatic style, she was named “Woman of Influence” by Globe Street Real Estate in 2019.

Real Estate, Land Use and Environmental Law

Amara has obtained land use entitlements for mixed use, residential, commercial, industrial and hotel development projects. She has extensive experience in all aspects of land use law, including compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the Permit Streamlining Act, planning and zoning law, the Subdivision Map Act and affordable housing laws, including density bonus and SB 35. Her work involves negotiation with state and federal agencies, including the Federal Aviation Administration, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Delta Protection Commission.

Public Agencies

Amara assists Contra Costa County and Alameda County public sector clients, including special districts, with land use, zoning, development and redevelopment, environmental law, and resource protection and conservation, transportation, and aviation expertise. She is general counsel to various transportation agencies and various Geologic Hazard Abatement Districts (GHADs). She has been lead counsel on the development, implementation, and defense of general plans, specific plans, and neighborhood plans and related development project approvals.

Municipal Experience

Prior to private practice, Morrison served as assistant city attorney for Livermore and Walnut Creek, where she advised officials and staff on matters including the California Public Records Act, the Ralph M. Brown Act, public finance and contracts, solid waste, risk management and conflicts of interest, First Amendment, and redevelopment. She drafted the state’s first comprehensive no-smoking ordinance, which banned smoking in the workplace (including bars and restaurants), cigarette vending machines, and smoking in multi-family housing units, an action followed by jurisdictions around the country.

  • Represented the developer of the West Oakland Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) property in seeking expedited review and approval of entitlements for a transit-oriented development including 762 residential units, 390,000 square feet of office space and 75,000 square feet of retail development.
  • Represented the developer of a 220-room hotel project in Oakland before the Planning Commission, which ultimately granted approval.
  • Represented the developer of two mixed-used projects in Walnut Creek (170 rental units and 30 condominium units, respectively).
  • Represented the seller of a $9 million property slated for redevelopment as a mixed-use project.
  • Represented a South Bay city in the processing of the state’s first large project application under legislation (SB 35) aimed at expedited land use review and approval processing.

Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) – East Bay

East Bay Leadership Council

  • Land Use Task Force

Bay Planning Coalition

  • Board of Directors

ProVisors

Save Mount Diablo

  • Immediate past Secretary and former Board Member

National Charity League

Contra Costa Bar Association

Alameda County Bar Association

Eastern Alameda County Bar Association

  • Honored as one of San Francisco Business Times’ “Most Influential Women in Bay Area Business” for 2020
  • Selected as a “Woman of Influence,” GlobeSt. Real Estate Forum, July/August 2019

Publications

California Supreme Court Denies Review in Berkeley Shellmound Case Paving the Way for Housing Under SB 35

California Supreme Court Denies Review in Berkeley Shellmound Case Paving the Way for Housing Under SB 35

08/02/2021 | Wendel Rosen LLP

In an exciting development regarding the validity of SB 35, the California Supreme Court on July 28, 2021, denied review of a recent First District Court of Appeal decision, Reugg…

Full Article
Webinar: Density Bonus: a Strong Development Tool Gets Stronger

Webinar: Density Bonus: a Strong Development Tool Gets Stronger

06/08/2021 | Wendel Rosen LLP

Amara Morrison and Todd Williams partners in Wendel Rosen’s Land Use Practice Group, discussed the recent legislative changes to the Density Bonus Law, and how the law works to benefit…

Full Article
Superior Court Validates Cupertino’s Streamlined Approval of Major Affordable Housing and Office Project

Superior Court Validates Cupertino’s Streamlined Approval of Major Affordable Housing and Office Project

05/08/2020 | Wendel Rosen LLP

On May 6, 2020, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Helen Williams upheld the City of Cupertino’s streamlined approval of a major housing/office project at the site of the former…

Full Article
Date Category Publication Title
05/01/2020 Publication Wendel Rosen LLP Due Process Issues Related to Remote Public Hearings
07/01/2019 Publication Contra Costa Lawyer Wendel Rosen Focuses on More than Just the Law
More Articles
03/01/2019 Publication Wendel Rosen LLP California Housing Bills Impacting 2019
01/23/2019 Publication Client Update Planning Commission Meeting to Discuss Draft Downtown Oakland Specific Plan
04/01/2018 Publication Contra Costa Lawyer Update on Housing Projects in Contra Costa Developers_ Innovative Ways to Help Cities Address the Housing Crisis
01/03/2018 Publication Amara Morrison and Todd Williams Slate of New Housing Bills Take Effect January 1, 2018

Events

Density Bonus: a Strong Development Tool Gets Stronger

Density Bonus: a Strong Development Tool Gets Stronger

06/02/2021 | Wendel Rosen LLP

Amara Morrison and Todd Williams partners in Wendel Rosen’s Land Use Practice Group, discussed the recent legislative changes to the Density Bonus Law, and how the law works to benefit…

Full Article
2019 Legal Updates; to Cannabis SB 35

2019 Legal Updates; to Cannabis SB 35

02/23/2019 | American Planning Association California Chapter Northern

Join attorneys Robert Selna and Amara Morrison, on February 23, 2019 at the American Planning Association California Chapter Northern program “2019 Legal Updates; to Cannabis SB 35,” as they co-present…

Full Article
Landlords & Cannabis Workshop – Leasing to a Cannabis Tenant

Landlords & Cannabis Workshop – Leasing to a Cannabis Tenant

12/20/2018 | Wendel Rosen LLP

Wendel Rosen co-presents this workshop hosted by real estate brokerage Kennedy Wilson in Concord, California. This workshop is exclusively for landlords interested in leasing to the cannabis industry. Additional speakers…

Full Article
Date Category Host Title
01/09/2018 Seminar Wendel Rosen LLP Demystifying the New 2018 Housing Laws and Update on Major Oakland Projects

News

Permitting Efforts Support Local Resource for Persons with Eating Disorders

Permitting Efforts Support Local Resource for Persons with Eating Disorders

05/01/2021 | Lafayette Social

An article published in Lafayette Social celebrates the great work done by Dr. Leslie Gee and her team at Monte Nido East Bay program. At its core, Wendel Rosen will always work to…

Full Article
Oakland Planning Commission Approves Final Development Permits for West Oakland BART Station

Oakland Planning Commission Approves Final Development Permits for West Oakland BART Station

11/18/2020 | San Francisco Business Times

Photo Courtesy of JRDV Architects Wendel Rosen attorneys Amara Morrison and Todd Williams represented Strategic Urban Development Alliance, a member of the development team BART selected to entitle and develop…

Full Article
Amara Morrison Selected to San Francisco Business Times’ Most Influential Women of 2020

Amara Morrison Selected to San Francisco Business Times’ Most Influential Women of 2020

05/26/2020 | Wendel Rosen LLP

OAKLAND, Calif., May 26, 2020 – Wendel Rosen LLP, the largest law firm in the East Bay representing businesses throughout the country, congratulates Land Use Partner Amara L. Morrison for…

Full Article
Date Category Publication Title
10/10/2019 Press Release Wendel Rosen   Wendel Rosen’s Amara Morrison Appointed to Bay Planning Coalition Board of Directors
07/09/2019 Press Release   Wendel Rosen’s Patricia Curtin and Amara Morrison Named Real Estate Forum “Women of Influence”
More Articles
01/09/2019 News Daily Journal  AB 2923: BART Transit-Oriented Housing Legislation
05/04/2016 Press Release   Firm Adds Three Attorneys and Broadens East Bay Land Use and Real Estate Footprint

Education

Vermont Law School, J.D and Masters of Environmental Law; magna cum laude 

University of Michigan, B.S.

Admissions

State Bar of California