Land Use - Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck

Effective land use representation exists at the intersection of legal services and public policy. This field requires a balancing act, which is why the skills of our team extend beyond transactional law and into the long-term, strategic planning of real estate development and public policy.

With years of national experience working on major development projects in both the public and private sectors, our Land Use Group has developed strategies to help clients plan and appropriately position themselves for maximum profit and engender the best possible community relations. The result is a unique understanding and a deeper level of representation for all facets of real estate, land use and development deals.

Whether through interaction with government officials or referendum initiatives, we are adept at working with governments to shape laws and influence elections to allow important projects to proceed.

Our group represents a variety of clients, including developers, corporations, lending institutions, manufacturers, municipalities, ski areas, retail operations and property buyers. We regularly deal with the interrelated concerns brought up by real estate development and redevelopment, engineering and construction, water rights and remediation, and environmental compliance and the regulatory environment. Our services also include handling zoning hearings, representing clients in front of decision-making boards and helping to negotiate neighborhood issues like noise, lighting and traffic.

Our services are integrated with all the firm’s resources so when necessary the Land Use Group coordinates litigation and collaborates with the firm’s real estate practices. 

Representative Matters
  • Representation of subsidiaries of Caesars Entertainment Corporation in connection with use permits, design reviews, temporary commercial permits, and other land use entitlement applications for various development projects for their casino, restaurant and entertainment properties.

  • Provide assistance to land use consultant preparing CEQA documentation and processing permits for remediation of oceanfront site in Santa Barbara County, and negotiating and drafting option agreement with non-profit for purchase of site upon completion of remediation. Assisting client in obtaining adequate water supplies for land farming, dust control, and revegetation of impacted site with natives plants and in obtaining permits for relocation of major creek. Permitting included Federal, State, and County agencies. Remediation groundbreaking is imminent.

  • Advises various property owners at Hollister Ranch, a private coastal community that includes 135 parcels of 100 acres each, with respect to public access issues.

  • Assisted client in preparing remediated property for sale to park foundation in the middle of heavily industrialized area of Los Angeles County with no nearby park serving local residents. Services included negotiating and documenting sale, drafting appropriate deed restrictions to prevent change of use that could expose seller to risk of liability, resolving/clearing title issues, drafting lease agreement, coordinating with buyer in negotiations with regulatory agencies for bona fide purchaser status under California Land Reuse and Revitalization Act of 2004 (CLRRA), Prospective Purchaser agreement, agreement and covenant not to sue (from DTSC), land use covenant and agreement for environmental restrictions, and related documents. Transaction was completed timely.

  • Represented Mill Creek Residential Trust in connection with the acquisition and development of several multi-family projects in Denver, Colorado. Properties are located in central Denver, RINO, LoHi, DU and Capitol Hill areas.

  • Represented White Lodging Services in connection with the site acquisition, entitlement, design review and construction financing for a new build Hyatt House/Hyatt Place and a new build AC/Le Meriden in downtown Denver, Colorado.

  • Serves as land use counsel to Cate School, a prestigious private high school on California's Central Coast. The campus includes 178 acres, 320,000 sf of existing structures (dorms, classrooms, administrative buildings, faculty housing and the like), 640,000 sf of impervious surfaces (including parking for 187 cars), and 585,000 sf of recreational open space (playing fields and the like). The school has existed on the site since 1913. It has secured approval for an update to its Master Plan under which it would construct 180,000 sf of new buildings, 101,000 sf of additional impervious surfaces, and six new faculty homes. An EIR was prepared for the project, and the Master Plan has been approved by the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission. Brownstein has been closely involved in the permitting and environmental review process, including reviewing EIR comment letters and responses to comments, and represented the school before the Planning Commission.

  • Successfully represented GCC Energy, LLC, operator of an existing coal mine in La Plata County, CO, in much contested negotiations and interim hearings with the Board of County Commissioners for a land use permit for continued mine operation ensuring that over 250 local miners' and truck drivers' jobs remained secure.

  • Representing Continuum Partners in the redevelopment of the former University of Colorado Health Sciences Center 9th and Colorado campus, which will include a horizontal and vertical mix of uses, including residential, office, retail, restaurant, hotel and public space. The firm negotiated the acquisition of the former University of Colorado Health Sciences Center at 9th and Colorado in Denver, which included completing all physical and legal due diligence for the site, providing advice with respect to Continuum’s administrative amendment for the GDP encumbering the property, and negotiating with the Denver Urban Renewal Authority for $47.9 million in TIF funds. We continue to oversee all legal work at the 30 acre project, including the development of both the retail and residential components of the site.

  • Led the real estate diligence for Starwood Capital’s acquisition of over $1.3 billion worth of Colorado multi-family projects from Equity Residential. The portfolio acquisition that includes 18 Colorado properties located between Boulder and metro Denver and totaling nearly 6,000 apartment units, was among a larger 72- property deal which also included apartment projects in D.C., Florida, California and Seattle and totaled 23,262 apartment units at a $5.3 billion aggregate sales price.

  • Serves as land use counsel for Casa Dorinda, a Southern California 360-resident retirement community, which secured approval for an update of its campus master plan. The update includes new cottages and other independent living units, an enlarged personal care facility, and a new memory care unit. Brownstein assisted the client in successfully negotiating settlements with a number of neighbors who had concerns about the intensification of use on the campus.

  • Represented the landowner in land use, financing and disposition of $300M Gaylord Hotel Conference Center location and bond closing negotiations.

  • Worked with Indian Springs Operating Company, LLC and their development team to prepare applications and supporting materials to secure land use entitlements for a mixed use commercial project consisting of a casino/tavern, gas station, convenience store, and restaurant with related amenities.

  • Defended court challenge to the rezoning of Sterling Ranch development in Douglas County.

  • Negotiated on behalf of a municipality an amended and restated development agreement and parks agreement with respect to a large master planned community.

  • Served as Nevada counsel to client in connection with the multi-million dollar sale of office buildings and vacant land including imposition of restrictive covenants with respect thereto.

  • Brownstein is collaborating with a greenfield mining company to implement an infrastructure development program that minimizes the length of time necessary to complete the state and federal permitting process.

  • Provided due diligence and transactional advice to commercial entity regarding permitting for stores ranging in size from 4,000 to 17,000 square feet in California.

  • Represent Martin Marietta Materials, the largest aggregate producer in the Western United States, on all land use and environmental issues that arise from its quarrying and manufacturing activities. This work includes representing the company in litigation and administrative proceedings pertaining to alleged air, water and waste violations, as well as zoning and permit approvals.

  • Provided land use and CEQA compliance advice to mixed-use project with 266 apartments and 88,000 square feet of commercial, the largest mixed-use project processed and approved by the City of Goleta, California.

  • Represented the Santa Barbara Cattlemen's Association regarding various land use and environmental issues in administrative proceedings before the County of Santa Barbara, State Water Control Board, and Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board.

  • Litigated to open the Torcido Creek road as means of access to Taylor Ranch property for beneficiaries of Colorado Supreme Court decree in the landmark case of Lobato v. Taylor 70 P.3d 1152 (Colo. 2003), which confirmed rights of descendants of Mexican settlers to access to land under Spanish land grant of 1884 and confirmed in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ending the Mexican/American war.

  • Represented client in purchase of a distressed San Francisco property out of bankruptcy for development of an approximately 81 unit multi-family building. Assisted with land use and CEQA due diligence.

  • Represented client in purchase of a distressed San Francisco property out of bankruptcy for development of an approximately 81 unit multi-family building. Represented client in bankruptcy matters, negotiations with operating partner of incentive development agreement, and California land use and CEQA matters.

  • Represented cattle ranch in acquisition of land use permit for controversial agricultural building. Successfully defended County's reliance on a CEQA exemption and associated Subdivision Map Act and land use claims.

  • Represented the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History before the City and County of Santa Barbara regarding their master plan project for updating and expanding the museum property and facilities, providing CEQA, land use, and real estate counsel.

  • Represented MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation on real estate, land use, redevelopment, and CEQA issues associated with the construction of a 17,000 square foot museum, designed to LEED Silver standards, in the City of Santa Barbara's downtown El Pueblo Viejo Landmark District.

  • Developed strategy and program to obtain development entitlements for a new residence in an existing and established high-end, beach neighborhood in Montecito, CA. Following the controversial entitlement process, managed the LEED Platinum certification process for the contemporary, custom-designed, sustainable residence which will also receive a resolution of commendation from the Board of Supervisors, Santa Barbara County's highest decision making body.

  • Represented a beachfront property owner in Santa Barbara who was facing a condemnation lawsuit from the City of Santa Barbara for reconstruction of a bridge adjacent to the property. Successfully negotiated a settlement of the matter.

  • Successfully represented several cement companies in all land use, mining, contract and environmental litigation and land use matters regarding its facilities in Colorado, New Mexico, and South Dakota. This work includes assisting the company in obtaining federal government and tribal approval for a mine and conveyor system on federal and tribal property.

  • Represented Intercontinental Potash Corp. in all aspects of developing one of the largest potash mines in the country. Representation included guiding the company through every aspect of the multi-year NEPA and the Endangered Species Act permitting process and obtaining all necessary federal, state and local permits.

  • Represented Orange County toll road agency in seeking State and Federal Coastal permits to complete construction of State Route 241.

  • Represented a Santa Barbara County beachfront property owner in securing a Coastal Development Permit for a new residence on 4.2 acres.

  • Performed due diligence for entitlement of multiple lots along the Gaviota Coast.

  • Represented city in challenge to coastal zone land use authority by oil and gas facility.

  • Represented city in denial of beachfront owner's vested rights claim under the Coastal Act.

  • Represented a housing developer in securing a Local Coastal Plan amendment and Coastal Development Permit for a 25-unit single family housing project, and then handled the subsequent litigation and appeal.

  • Represented a group of coastal property owners who successfully objected to proposed amendments to Santa Barbara County's coastal zoning ordinance (a portion of the Local Coastal Program) which threatened to significantly and adversely affect private property rights.

  • Represented CBS Outdoor Inc. on Denver compliance and land use issues involving outdoor advertising devices, including matters involving ordinance changes to the Denver sign code.

  • Provided land use representation as special counsel in connection with the acquisition and development of the Ralph L. Carr Justice Complex and Colorado History Center Project.

  • Represented Clark County, Nevada, as the operator of McCarran International Airport, in the defense of inverse condemnation airspace takings claims brought by landowners. Successfully argued that the landowners' claims were time-barred under the applicable statute of limitations and obtained dismissal of all causes of action with prejudice. Las Vegas Mall Limited Partnership et al. v. Clark County, Nevada, et al.

  • Represent Edison Mission Energy in zoning and land use matters related to obtaining entitlements for construction of a solar energy project in Santa Barbara County, California. Representation includes environmental review, amendment of the zoning ordinance to provide for solar projects in agricultural zones, and conformity with the Williamson Act (Agricultural Preserve).

  • Successfully represented applicant in development of 550,000 square foot shopping center project involving complex environmental issues, including location within the flight path of municipal airport.

  • Represented a Nevada Indian tribe in the negotiation of a Solar Energy Ground Lease Agreement and other agreements with a large renewable energy developer for the construction of a 200 MW concentrated solar project on approximately 1000 acres of vacant tribal land located in southern Nevada.

  • Represented the purchaser/redeveloper of the former Gates Factory site, which consists of 55 acres and 2 million building square feet, located at I-25 and Broadway in Denver. The firm's work for the redevelopment involved brownfields redevelopment, environmental remediation, acquisition of entitlements for a mixed-use transit-oriented development, neighborhood negotiations and structuring of public and private financing.

  • Provided land use due diligence analysis for acquisition of a 350-acre ranch in Ojai, California.

  • Represented the buyer in providing land use and title due diligence for the acquisition of a 25-acre agricultural property containing several significant historical structures and involving complex conservation easements and related private covenants in the Santa Barbara County foothills.

  • Ongoing provision of a wide range of services as City Attorney for city, including drafting ordinances, prosecuting and defending against litigation on a broad range of public agency matters, attending and representing public agency at City Commission and City Council meetings, and advising city regarding Open Meetings, Public Records Act, code enforcement, land use, CEQA, public contracting, property transaction, and related matters.

  • Land use entitlement, CEQA compliance and environmental permitting, for complex 300 high-end single family residential unit project in canyons of Orange County.

  • Land use and CEQA counsel for a 5,000 single-family residential and mixed use project in Inland Empire.

  • Successfully defended CEQA challenge to 800,000 square foot warehouse/distribution center, in state and appellate courts. Provided land use and CEQA compliance advice for expansion facility.

  • Counseled Chicago Grade Landfill, Inc. on land use permitting and Williamson Act issues resulting in a long-term permit for operation expansion.

  • Represent the owners of a premium California winery and vineyards with respect to land use, entitlement and zoning matters.

  • Represented applicant in a phased apartment project totally over 650 units, resolving a variety of complex issues regarding environmental and permitting issues, negotiation of development agreement, and assistance with the negotiation of public financing.

  • Managed consultants for and represented the client before the Santa Barbara County and the California Coastal Commission to obtain entitlements for redevelopment of beach blufftop property.

  • Coordinated land use and zoning issues involving a large commercial office site and subsequently negotiated the sale and leaseback to a commercial developer.

  • Counsel the owner of Foley Estate Vineyard and his entities in performing acquisition due diligence, and in operational land use, water rights and entitlement issues.

  • Representing developer for large multi-family real estate project in Napa County, California related to water supply and utility issues, including use of groundwater, water transfers, conjunctive use, and water reuse and recycling.

  • Assist with land use due diligence for the acquisition of a 25,000-acre ranch property on the California coast. Ongoing advice regarding natural resource and Coastal Act compliance issues.

  • Provided land use due diligence for acquisition of a 780-acre ranch in the Santa Barbara foothills, and subsequent advice on land use and natural resource issues. Brownstein worked with expert consultants to analyze water resources located on the ranch, and to develop a plan for the use of those resources.

  • Represented Capital Pacific Holdings in the land use permitting proceedings and subsequent environmental litigation for a 40-unit condominium project in Santa Barbara.

  • Represented a major university in negotiations involving land use and real estate matters for a casino and hotel development.

  • Represented the developer of Spire Denver, a downtown condo high-rise in a suit against the lender for abandoning the loan.

  • Represent owners in processing of multi-agency entitlements for an existing equestrian academy located in rural Santa Barbara County.

  • Process entitlements and coordinate environmental review for the subdivision of a 2,000-acre ranch in coastal Santa Barbara County.

  • Handle ongoing constraints and opportunities analysis for a 4,000-acre ranch in coastal Santa Barbara County related to land use, agricultural and natural resources planning. Brownstein is also coordinating related entitlements for two single-family residences and managing the process for LEED for Homes certification.

  • Represented the buyer in providing land use due diligence for the acquisition of a 550-acre ranch in the Santa Barbara County foothills.

  • Defended Clark County, Nevada against a landowner's inverse condemnation airspace takings claims alleging damages in excess of $2.7 billion. The result was a summary judgment entered in favor of Clark County on issue of liability and the Court disposed of the case in its entirety. 70 Limited Partnership v. Clark County, Nevada et al.

  • Assisted Terroir Hotel & Resort Fund, LP in the acquisition of a Santa Barbara historical inn and adjacent parcels of land for the preservation of the property and development of a complementary luxury resort. Following the acquisition, Brownstein advised on land development issues.

  • Represented a California health club organization in the preparation of a property report assessing land use opportunities and constraints relative to long-term planning for a community recreation facility.

  • Represented a client before Santa Barbara County to obtain entitlements for the development of a custom-designed, sustainable home. Brownstein also assisted in easement issues and managed the LEED certification process for the property.

  • Represented a homeowner group in challenging the application for a permit for a major condominium development.

  • Represented the Colorado Community College System in the development of a 150-acre campus at Lowry. Brownstein handled negotiations involving federal limitations, multi-jurisdictional land use matters and related real estate issues for this mixed use development.

  • Developed water supply strategy for 80,000-acre ranch property on the California Central Coast, including development of water rights and imposition of a conservation easement.

  • Represented internationally renowned music conservatory in gaining comprehensive land use permits for its campus. Directed permit processing, oversaw environmental review compliance and public hearing presentations, and negotiated the settlement of threatened litigation by project opponents

  • Providing ongoing representation for a variety of residential, commercial, industrial, and non-profit applicants for development projects.

  • Provided land use and CEQA compliance advice regarding Recirculated Environmental Impact Report for controversial mixed use project in West Los Angeles with 2,600 residential units and 325,000 square feet of office and retail space.

  • Represented the purchase/redeveloper of an environmentally contaminated 3.5 acre site in downtown San Francisco to be developed into a $200 million mixed-use project compound on 400 residential units and 50,000 square feet of communal space.

  • Successfully settled the litigation in a manner that preserved the client’s land use approvals and entitlements.

  • Provided land use and CEQA compliance advice to a major university in West Los Angeles for master plan project. The master plan project involved adding 2,000,000 new and replacement square feet residential and non-residential facilities to the campus.

  • Provided land use and CEQA compliance advice to a major utility regarding a large transmission line project traversing two counties.

  • Provided land use and CEQA compliance advice to the first wind project in Santa Barbara County.

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Meet The Team

Nicole R. Ament Shareholder T 303.223.1174 nament@bhfs.com
Peter N. Brown Shareholder T 805.882.1401 pbrown@bhfs.com
Steven A. Amerikaner Shareholder T 805.882.1407 samerikaner@bhfs.com
Christopher A. Jacobs Shareholder T 805.882.1412 cjacobs@bhfs.com
Carolynne C. White Shareholder T 303.223.1197 cwhite@bhfs.com
Beth Collins-Burgard Shareholder T 805.882.1419 bcollins@bhfs.com
Alicia Harrison Senior Land Use Project Manager T 805.882.1442 aharrison@bhfs.com
Patsy Stadelman Price Senior Land Use Project Manager T 805.882.1424 pprice@bhfs.com
Edward N. Barad Shareholder T 303.223.1108 ebarad@bhfs.com
Chris Frahm Shareholder T 619.702.6917 cfrahm@bhfs.com
Diane C. De Felice Shareholder T 310.500.4613 ddefelice@bhfs.com
Jessica L. Diaz Associate T 805-882-1416 jdiaz@bhfs.com
Wayne F. Forman Shareholder T 303.223.1120 wforman@bhfs.com
Christopher R. Guillen Associate T 310.500.4633 cguillen@bhfs.com
Dylan K. Johnson Associate T 805.882.1413 djohnson@bhfs.com
Stephanie Osler Hastings Shareholder T 805.882.1415 shastings@bhfs.com
Blair E. Lichtenfels Shareholder T 303.223.1190 blichtenfels@bhfs.com
Mark J. Mathews Shareholder T 303.223.1179 mmathews@bhfs.com
Rebecca L. Miltenberger Shareholder T 702.464.7052 rmiltenberger@bhfs.com
Caitlin Quander Associate T 303.223.1233 cquander@bhfs.com
Hillary H. Steenberge Associate T 805.882.1432 hsteenberge@bhfs.com
Ronda L. Sandquist Shareholder T 303.223.1191 rsandquist@bhfs.com
Susan F. Petrovich Shareholder T 805.882.1405 spetrovich@bhfs.com
Steven O. Sims Shareholder T 303.223.1149 ssims@bhfs.com
Ryan Waterman Shareholder T 619.702.7569 rwaterman@bhfs.com
Melinda R. Hart Paralegal T 805.882.1435 mhart@bhfs.com