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Land Use Entitlements & CEQA Compliance - California

Our results-oriented approach allows us to obtain entitlements in even the most controversial and complex development projects.


Mayer Brown’s Land Use practice advises clients in an effective, cost-efficient manner with regard to the full range of legal and political issues that routinely arise in the course of entitling and developing a project. With support from lawyers from the firm’s Government Relations, Real Estate and Environmental practices, our results-oriented approach has allowed us to obtain entitlements in even the most controversial and complex development projects.

Our team is experienced in all stages of real estate and land use projects, including planning, permitting, financing and, when necessary, asserting or protecting our clients’ rights in court. Our involvement ranges from providing strategic advice on a particular legal or political issue to serving as the project manager on complicated or controversial projects. We work seamlessly with existing project teams, adapting our level of services and approach to the circumstances of each project. In addition, our lawyers leverage their relationships with premier architectural, engineering and environmental firms in order to assemble the best possible team of design professionals and consultants.

Land use issues have a public component, and Mayer Brown’s lawyers have years of experience working with governmental bodies and are therefore able to help our clients navigate changing regulatory environments. Our government experience allows us to understand the political and administrative staff-level realities that arise during the course of land use work.

Many of our lawyers have held high-ranking elected, appointed and legal counsel positions in government, providing an insider’s view on the intricacies of how laws and regulations affect business activities and transactions. As such, we are intimately familiar with legal, political and economic considerations when conducting business with governments and can help companies understand and comply with these unique requirements.

Areas of Experience
Land use permitting and environmental document reviews can often involve lengthy processes of negotiation and dialogue with multiple government agencies. Our experience allows us to anticipate potential challenges and develop contingency plans for unforeseen issues. We provide guidance throughout the entire permitting and review process.

Specifically, our areas of practice include:

  • Land-use entitlements
  • CEQA compliance
  • Development agreements
  • Subdivision Map Act
  • Water supply assessments
  • Initiatives and referenda
  • Land use and CEQA litigation

Our Approach
We guide owners, developers and investors through the many complex local, state and federal regulations affecting real estate transactions.

For land use issues, our general approach is consultative rather than adversarial in nature. We believe that preserving and enhancing the quality of our clients' regulatory relationships is an essential component of the advice and services we provide.

We possess the political savvy that can only come from years of experience. Most of the governmental approvals we seek for our clients are discretionary in nature, which means that a project needs a majority of votes from the decision-making body for approval. We work with clients to effectively design and position development projects to anticipate and alleviate potential opposition, and respond to the concerns of appointed and elected officials. Through participation in public forums, regular meetings with decision-makers and established relationships with government agency staff, we are in touch with the pulse of local and state politics and are familiar with the unwritten policies and rules that can often determinate a project's fate.

Working closely with the firm’s Real Estate practice, we are able to provide counsel on acquisitions, dispositions, construction, leasing and financing. With lawyers from the firm’s Environmental group, we advise on all aspects of complex environmental matters, including regulatory compliance, enforcement defense, disputes and transactions, and also advise clients on cutting-edge issues such as climate change. This collaboration allows our Land Use practice to address all aspects of land development.

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