Jena Shoaf Acos

Jena Shoaf Acos



Natural resources attorney with unique expertise combining public agency work with water law. Helps entities navigate emerging laws and fee authority, especially as they relate to the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Prioritizes a preemptive approach to representation.

Jena Acos’ practice thrives at the intersection of water and public agency law. She intimately understands how natural resource issues interrelate with the economic, social and regulatory aspects inherent in work on behalf of, and for those interfacing with, public agencies. She strategically breaks down problems and generates candid dialogue that is often key to resolving complex issues.

Jena’s clients include some of California’s largest water districts and private agricultural interests operating in the state’s most critically overdrafted basins. Along with institutional government entities, Jena works with various water rights holders on both small-scale and larger projects. She advises clients on the development and implementation of groundwater management plans and brings unique insight on public finance issues involving taxes, assessments, fees and charges. 

Jena also serves as a contract city attorney for the City of Carpinteria, where she works with city staff to navigate critical jurisdictional issues and draft, review and enforce contracts and ordinances. Her decade of experience representing the city underscores her expertise in all aspects of local governmental law, including the Brown Act, Public Records Act, Political Reform Act and LAFCO issues, as well as planning, zoning, housing and environmental laws. This has included addressing short-term rentals and housing scarcity, social justice issues, and sea-level rise and coastal access, as well as negotiating land use matters with housing and hotel developers and energy companies.

Representative Matters

Public Agency

  • Assisting the City of Carpinteria as it navigates the decommissioning of onshore oil drilling related infrastructure. Counsel includes assisting client with determining best path forward given regulatory, environmental, social and reputational issues, and includes negotiation of restrictive covenants to preclude any future use of the property from being utilized for oil and gas related uses.

  • Counseled a group of local agencies in Ventura County to draft and negotiate a joint powers agreement to form a Groundwater Sustainability Agency pursuant to the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

  • Provides legal counsel to Goleta West Sanitary District, including: its transition to district elections and the California Voting Rights Act, rate increases necessitated by upgrades to the regional water treatment plant and regarding the District’s multi-million dollar installment purchase contract with CSDA Finance Corporation to pay for plant upgrades and other capital projects.

Public Financing & Fee Authority

  • Counsel to various public entities navigating the nuances of Proposition 26 and Proposition 218 as they relate to a wide range of public finance issues involving taxes, assessments, fees and charges. Counsel includes helping clarify public financing options, limitations and challenges, including Proposition 26 and Proposition 218 assessment procedures and rate-setting.

Groundwater Management

  • Special counsel to the newly formed GSA for the Westside Subbasin. Westside Subbasin consists mainly of the lands in the Westlands Water District, the largest agricultural water district in the United States comprised of over 1,000 square miles of farmland. Provides counsel to GSA, including compliance with SGMA’s procedural requirements, preparation of the GSP, and collaboration with neighboring GSAs and stakeholders.

Insights & Publications



  • J.D., 2013, Georgetown University Law Center
  • M.P.P., 2013, Georgetown Public Policy Institute
  • B.A., 2007, University of California at Berkeley


  • California

Community Involvement


Legal Aid Foundation of Santa Barbara County, Board Member

League of California Cities, Municipal Law Symposium Committee, Committee Member

California Groundwater Resource Association Central Coast Board, Board Member and Member of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee

Georgetown Pro Bono Fellows Program

Central American Refugee Committee (CRECE)

Planning for College Success

California Public Interest Research Group (CalPIRG)

Northwest Youth Corp – Conservation Corps



Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America, 2024

2021 Who's Who in Professional Services, Pacific Coast Business Times

2021 40 Under 40, Pacific Coast Business Times

2019 Young Pro, Water & Wastes Digest

Top 50 Women in Business 2019, Pacific Coast Business Times, March 2019

Global Law Scholar, Georgetown University Law School

Senior Articles Editor, The Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law