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. Our results-oriented approach allows us to obtain entitlements in even the most controversial and complex development projects. 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 ExperienceLand 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 ApproachWe 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.
Representative Entitlement Projects
- Representing the owners of The Reef in obtaining entitlements for a 10-acre site in downtown Los Angeles. The project will consist of: (i) 549 residential apartment units, including 21 live/work units, in 11 low- and mid-rise buildings; (ii) 895 residential condominium units in two high-rise buildings; (iii) 90,000 square feet of retail uses, including a 30,000-square-foot grocery store; (iv) 46,000 square feet of restaurant/bar square space; (v) a 208-key hotel; (vi) a 18,000-square-foot gallery; and (vii) an 8,000-square-foot fitness/yoga studio. In addition, the project will include a supplemental sign district to permit off-site advertising. This project involves the negotiation of a development agreement and a community benefits package, and CEQA compliance through the preparation of an EIR.
- Representing Harvard-Westlake School in obtaining entitlements for a three-story, 750-space parking structure with an athletic field on top. The project is located in Studio City, and it includes a pedestrian bridge crossing over Coldwater Canyon Avenue to connect the parking structure with the campus. Harvard-Westlake will make significant improvements to local streets to improve traffic flow on Coldwater Canyon. In addition, the project includes the vacation of air space over Coldwater Canyon and the vacation of a paper street. This project involves negotiations with several community groups and CEQA compliance through the preparation of an EIR.
- Representing iStar Financial in obtaining entitlements to redevelop the 23-acre Valley Plaza site in North Hollywood with hundreds of residential dwelling units and a significant commercial component. The project may involve the condemnation of private property and will likely involve the relocation of a public park, which has never occurred in the City of Los Angeles. In addition, the project will include a supplemental sign district to permit off-site advertising. This project involves the negotiation of a development agreement, a community benefits package and CEQA compliance through the preparation of an EIR.
- Representing Encore Capital Management and Cal Coast Development with the entitlements for a three-acre site in Koreatown. The project will consist of approximately 400 residential apartment units and a significant retail component. This project involves the issuance of multiple entitlements, as well as CEQA compliance.
- Representing Encore Capital Management and Cal Coast Development with the entitlements for a three-acre site in Hollywood at the corner of Cahuenga and Fountain. The project will consist of approximately 375 residential apartment units and a commercial and office component. This project involves the issuance of multiple entitlements, as well as CEQA compliance through the preparation of an EIR.
- Representing the owner of the Universal Hilton with the expansion of the existing hotel. The project will include the development of an additional tower, which will require the approval of discretionary entitlements and CEQA compliance through the preparation of an EIR.
- Representing Honda of Downtown Los Angeles with the entitlement of a new car dealership adjacent to the Los Angeles Coliseum. The project involves the acquisition of property from the City of Los Angeles.
- Represented Watt Investment Partners with the acquisition of an office building in Los Angeles that was successfully converted into a medical office building.
- Representing the GPI Companies with due diligence and entitlements on multiple projects in and around the City of Los Angeles.
- Representing Maxxam Enterprises with due diligence and entitlements on multiple projects in and around the City of Los Angeles.
- Representing CGI - Strategies In Real Estate with due diligence and entitlements on multiple projects in and around the City of Los Angeles.
- Representing Temple Israel of Hollywood with entitlement related issues.
- Represented* AREA Property Partners (formally Apollo Real Estate Fund) in obtaining land use entitlements for the approximately one million-square-foot Columbia Square mixed-use project on a full city block at Sunset and Gower in Hollywood. The project entitlements permitted the development of a boutique 125-key hotel, 200 condominium units in a high-rise residential tower, 460,000 square feet of office space and retail and restaurant amenities. The project renovated an important historic landmark building. The project required an environmental impact report, a development agreement, a community benefits package and other complex entitlements. This project included substantial cultural and historic related issues and the issuance of many local permits and CEQA compliance through the preparation of an EIR.
- Represented* Carlyle Realty Partners in obtaining land use approvals from the City of Culver City and its Redevelopment Agency for a 400,000-square-foot Class A office building to be integrated with an existing hotel to create a mixed-use project. This project involved a complex shared parking analysis, major traffic improvements and CEQA compliance through the preparation of an EIR.
- Represented* Combined Properties regarding the entitlements for the famed House of Blues site in West Hollywood. The project entitlements allow for the development of a 225,000-square-foot mixed-use project that will include a 149-key boutique hotel, 40 branded luxury residential units, an affordable housing component and 15,000 square feet of entertainment and restaurant space. This project involved negotiating a development agreement, a community benefits package and the issuance of local permits, as well as CEQA compliance through the preparation of an EIR.
- Represented* the Downtown Women’s Center with the entitlement for a 70,000-square-foot shelter in downtown Los Angeles. This pro bono project involved complex negotiations with the City of Los Angeles Redevelopment Agency, the City of Los Angeles Planning Department and numerous neighborhood groups.
- Represented* Hines in an attempt by a tenant to designate an office space designed by John Lautner located within a Class A office building at 10100 Santa Monica Boulevard as a City of Los Angeles Cultural-Historical Monument. This project involved complex negotiations with various city departments.
- Represented* a single developer with the entitlements of four different master-planned communities encompassing over 2,500 acres within the City of Bakersfield, California. The four projects totaled over 11,500 residential dwelling units and more than one million square feet of commercial and retail space. The master-planned communities include a mixed-use town center and sports park. These projects involved the issuance of various state and local permits, including issues related to federal and state endangered species and CEQA compliance through the preparation of multiple environmental impact reports.
- Represented* the County of Napa, California to peer review a water supply assessment for a 154-acre redevelopment that includes 580 attached residential dwelling units in multistory buildings, 150 senior housing units, 15,000 square feet of restaurant space, 25,000 square feet of retail space, 50,000 square feet of office space, 140,000 square feet of industrial, research and development or warehousing space, various community facilities and a 150-room condominium hotel.
*Representation was assisted by a Mayer Brown partner prior to his employment with Mayer Brown.