Matthew L. Hofer

Matthew L. Hofer



Matt Hofer focuses his natural resources practice on land use and environmental issues, civil litigation and regulatory/administrative law. He has extensive experience with state and federal environmental statutes, including the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the California Coastal Act and the “Superfund” law (CERCLA). Matt’s clients include Fortune 500 companies, municipalities and government agencies, and private individuals.

Matt is a tenacious problem solver who develops an in-depth understanding of his clients’ goals and finds creative solutions for success. Matt guides his land use clients through all stages of the entitlement process, from the initial stages of regulatory review to litigation and appellate proceedings. His regulatory agency experience includes the Environmental Protection Agency, the California Coastal Commission, the Water Replenishment District of Southern California, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control and numerous counties and municipalities.

In his litigation practice, Matt is a tireless advocate with wide-ranging experience before state and federal courts at the trial and appellate levels. Clients and colleagues trust Matt’s insights and value his ability to identify and leverage the key issues in a given case.

Matt is a third-generation Santa Barbarian with deep ties to the local community. He is passionate about the unique environment and way of life that characterize California’s Central and Southern coasts.

Matt previously practiced with Cappello & Noel LLP, King & Spalding and Morrison Foerster.

Representative Matters

Land Use & Environmental Law

  • Successfully represented private citizen equestrians in a CEQA lawsuit challenging the County of Santa Barbara’s decision to open a remote trail on the north shore of Lake Cachuma to hikers and bikers with no environmental review. The project posed a potential threat to sensitive flora and fauna, including nesting bald eagles, that had never before been exposed to these new trail uses. Despite statute of limitations issues and fierce opposition from the county, Brownstein’s team convinced the trial court to rule for their clients and award $300,000 in attorneys’ fees.

  • Representing a railroad company in complex quiet title and eminent domain proceedings related to flooding impacts on a railroad trestle in Northern California.

  • Defending a utility-scale solar energy project in San Diego County from CEQA and General Plan consistency challenges pending in the California Court of Appeal.

  • Represents landowners and businesses on high stakes environmental issues from land use to water rights and water quality, including: litigation challenging County of Santa Barbara’s denial of an agricultural subdivision, comprehensive groundwater rights litigation for a coalition of landowners, defending a large agrichemical company from water contamination claims filed by multiple states and municipalities, and challenging permit decisions by the California Coastal Commission and the City of Laguna Beach for violations of CEQA, the Coastal Act and the municipal code.

  • Represented the State of Utah in pursuing federal statutory and state tort claims against the U.S. E.P.A., its contractors, and mine owners arising from the August 5, 2015 Gold King Mine Blowout. Utah obtained a $360 million settlement for its claims against the federal government.

Civil Litigation

  • Successfully mediated claims against Southern California Edison by numerous homeowners and businesses impacted by the catastrophic 2017 Thomas Fire and resulting debris flows.

  • Assisted client in bad-faith lawsuit against insurer arising from federal government’s seizure of a private airplane.

  • Defended a major retailer of home improvement supplies in several Proposition 65 cases brought by a serial litigant.

  • Provided pro bono representation of several charitable organizations in a major disability discrimination lawsuit against Los Angeles County regarding its administration of a cash benefits program for indigent citizens. The lawsuit resulted in beneficial changes to the program and an award of $1.8 million in attorneys’ fees.

Regulatory Law & Counselling

  • Advised the City of Carpinteria in successfully amending its Municipal Code and Local Coastal Program to adopt regulations on formula businesses/”chain stores.”

  • Counselled a large manufacturing company in providing supplemental regulatory reports under the U.S. E.P.A.’s Audit Policy.

  • Assumed significant roles in several sensitive internal corporate investigations and responses to inquiries by the federal Securities and Exchange Commission.

  • Advised multiple entities within a Fortune 500 company on compliance with federal warranty law.

Insights & Publications



J.D., 2015, Georgetown University Law Center

B.A., 2011, University of California, Los Angeles