Morrison, Amara L.

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

  • Selected as a “Woman of Influence,” GlobeSt. Real Estate Forum, July/August 2019

Publications

Wendel Rosen Focuses on More than Just the Law

Wendel Rosen Focuses on More than Just the Law

07/01/2019 | Contra Costa Lawyer

On July 1, 2019, Contra Costa Lawyer published an article by Wendel Rosen attorneys Donald Simon and Amara Morrison. The article touches upon the Bay Area Green Business Program and how…

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California Housing Bills Impacting 2019

California Housing Bills Impacting 2019

03/01/2019 | Client Update

2019 welcomed a host of new bills in California aimed at the development of housing. Here’s a summary. AB 2923: Transit-Oriented Development on BART-Owned Land (Chiu and Grayson) This legislation…

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Planning Commission Meeting to Discuss Draft Downtown Oakland Specific Plan

Planning Commission Meeting to Discuss Draft Downtown Oakland Specific Plan

01/23/2019 | Client Update

The City of Oakland recently published a Preliminary Draft Plan, which is the first step in an effort to develop a specific plan for Downtown Oakland, defined as the area…

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Date Category Publication Title
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
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Events

Current Topics in Planning Law – from Cannabis to the Fast Track

Current Topics in Planning Law – from Cannabis to the Fast Track

11/15/2019 | American Planning Association California Chapter Northern

Join attorneys Robert Selna and Amara Morrison who will present the webinar, “Current Topics in Planning Law – from Cannabis to the Fast Track,” on Friday, November 15, 2019 from…

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News

Wendel Rosen’s Amara Morrison Appointed to Bay Planning Coalition Board of Directors

Wendel Rosen’s Amara Morrison Appointed to Bay Planning Coalition Board of Directors

10/10/2019 | Wendel Rosen

Amara Morrison, a land use partner with Wendel Rosen LLP, the largest law firm in the East Bay representing businesses throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and state, has been…

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Wendel Rosen’s Patricia Curtin and Amara Morrison Named Real Estate Forum “Women of Influence”

Wendel Rosen’s Patricia Curtin and Amara Morrison Named Real Estate Forum “Women of Influence”

07/09/2019

Wendel Rosen LLP, the largest law firm in the East Bay representing businesses throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and state, congratulates Land Use Partners Patricia E. Curtin and Amara…

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AB 2923: BART transit-oriented housing legislation

AB 2923: BART transit-oriented housing legislation

01/09/2019 | Daily Journal

[This article was originally published in the Daily Journal’s New Laws Supplement on January 9, 2019.] The Daily Journal’s New Laws Supplement published the article, "AB 2923: BART transit-oriented housing legislation" in…

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Date Category Publication Title
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