Land Use


Williams, Todd A.

510.834.6600 T

510.808.4730 F


Land use and public law issues continue to evolve and become progressively more complex. Wendel Rosen’s land use attorneys enjoy helping clients find creative solutions to complex problems. Our robust Land Use practice group advises both private and public sector clients in connection with all aspects of the development and permitting process, including land use litigation.

From Small to Large – Clients Get the Right Sized Solution

We represent clients in a wide range of land use projects, ranging from small remodeling projects requiring local permits, to major residential, commercial, industrial and mixed use development projects involving a myriad of documentation and complex environmental and land use issues. Representing clients throughout California, we work on zoning and permitting matters in cities, counties, and special districts and in numerous subdivision processing and approval procedures.

Public Hearings and Approvals

Our deep knowledge of local, regional and state agencies helps us minimize roadblocks and find solutions to problems that can arise in the development process. The firm’s land use attorneys have substantial experience representing clients before city councils, boards of supervisors, planning commissions, zoning boards, and other boards and commissions. Several attorneys are current or former board and commission members in Bay Area jurisdictions or regional agencies. Others have served as city planners or have advanced degrees in related fields. This experience provides additional perspective while guiding clients through the land use process.

Supporting the Development Team

Firm attorneys regularly work with client project team members and other professionals to prepare the documentation required to obtain land use approvals, including development agreements, tentative and final subdivision maps, complex project applications, conditions of approval, and environmental review documents. Working closely with architects, surveyors, engineers, contractors and others on the development team, we can help streamline what can often be a complex and lengthy process. Our years of experience untangling the maze of local, state and federal regulations that govern land use applications, including CEQA, the Subdivision Map Act, and wetlands, air quality, and congestion management regulations, means we have the knowledge and ability to build a practical solution that keeps your project on track

When It’s Time to Fight: Litigation and Dispute Resolution

Occasionally, it is necessary to consider litigation or other remedies when a jurisdiction improperly denies a project or attempts to impose unauthorized or unwarranted fees or dedications on a project.  In other situations, public agencies consider approving projects that might have serious adverse consequences on our clients’ properties or interests, without performing adequate environmental or other development review.  In these instances, the firm helps clients defend their rights through litigation and alternative dispute resolution, including negotiation, mediation and arbitration. We have successfully represented clients in matters throughout California involving issues related to CEQA, the Subdivision Map Act, exactions and development fees, building moratoria, and similar issues.

Wendel Rosen’s land use attorneys are resolution-oriented, using their skills and experience to find creative solutions to complex land use issues that arise throughout the development process. From project inception to public approval, Wendel Rosen is equipped to provide timely, useful and experienced legal counsel to clients in the land use arena.

Types of Projects

  • Mixed use projects
  • Public/private partnerships
  • Residential and commercial condominiums
  • Planned unit developments
  • Industrial
  • Commercial
  • Hospitals and medical facilities
  • Vineyard development
  • Geologic Hazardous Abatement Districts
  • And many others

  • Represented landowner in CEQA action challenging the county’s approval of Specific Plan amendments, the environmental impact report and development agreement for a large commercial and residential project on neighboring property

  • Represented real party in interest and worked with city to defend city’s reliance on CEQA exemptions in approving a mixed-use, transit oriented infill development project

  • Obtained approval of new roller coaster for amusement park over significant neighbor opposition and following more than 20 public hearings

  • Represented developer and worked with city in the preparation and approval of a joint EIS/EIR for a large residential and commercial development project on real property transferred pursuant to the Defense Base Realignment and Closure Act

  • Represented developer in negotiating complex construction, loan, intercreditor and lease agreements for acquisition, financing, construction and leasing of the $72 million mixed-use center, which included a jazz museum, condominiums, restaurants and parking.

  • Represented client in dispute involving the State’s claim that real property was subject to the public trust

  • Resolved numerous eminent domain cases for a public entity on favorable terms involving complex acquisitions for grade separation projects affecting access, circulation and parking.

  • Received favorable court ruling in a case involving a city’s improper suspension of an issued building permit and enactment of an emergency ordinance to prevent construction of the client’s project

  • Negotiated acquisition of adjacent surplus land from neighboring public entity to allow clients to maintain and expand their yard and create buffer from incompatible uses

  • Obtained a $27 million verdict for a shopping center owner in an eminent domain case involving acquisition of a significant portion of the center’s parking for a transit station

  • Representing owners of coastal property, obtained a ruling from the California Court of Appeal, that a State Lands Commission policy restricting coastal development was an illegal, underground regulation and could not be used to prevent the landowners from developing their property. (Bollay v. California Office of Administrative Law, et al., California Court of Appeal Case No. C 063268 (Sacramento County Superior Court Case No. 34-2008-80000072).)

  • Williams, Todd A.
  • Curtin, Patricia E.
  • Dunaway, Thiele Robin
  • Flushman, Bruce S.
  • Hausrath, Les A.
  • Mintzer, Pamela Schock
  • Moore, Allan
  • Morrison, Amara
  • Myers, Daniel B.
  • Parish, Neal A.
  • Redding, Jonathan W.
  • Selna, Robert
  • Wasserman, R. Zachary
Events & Seminars