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Amrit S. Kulkarni

Amrit S. KulkarniPrincipalDownload PDFvCard213.626.2906510.808.2000

Overview

Amrit Kulkarni is a member of the firm’s Executive Committee and chairs the Land Use, Environmental Law, and Transportation & Infrastructure Practice Groups, reflecting the reality that these Practices are highly integrated, the respective laws and regulations often overlap and clients depend on his strategic insight at the intersection of the three areas.

Amrit’s specialty is providing transaction and litigation counsel on high-profile, complex and often controversial civil infrastructure and commercial and urban development projects. He also has experience advising on the unique issues that are involved in public-private partnerships.

Amrit’s project experience includes serving local, state and national clients that are involved in airports, passenger transit systems, freight rail networks, ports, harbors, highways, water resources, office buildings, mixed-use residential developments, university campus expansions, and a wide range of commercial and industrial facilities. He advises on an extensive scope of laws, including the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), State Planning and Zoning Law, Coastal Act, Tidelands Trust, Subdivision Map Act, Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Act, Mitigation Fee Act and Clean Water Act, among others.

Amrit provides transactional counsel during a project’s planning, development and implementation phases, particularly relating to the entitlement process, as well as litigation expertise when clients need to defend or challenge a project. His team is well recognized for its outstanding record of litigation victories, from trial through appeal, involving complex factual and legal issues that arise under CEQA, NEPA and the myriad of environmental laws that apply to projects in California.

Amrit’s environmental law expertise was demonstrated on March 2, 2015, when the California Supreme Court issued its highly anticipated decision in Berkeley Hillside Preservation v. City of Berkeley (S201116), which resolved years of uncertainty by holding that there must be “unusual circumstances” in order for an otherwise categorically exempt project to be subject to CEQA. The Court also resolved a divide among Courts of Appeal, holding that an agency’s findings as to unusual circumstances are subject to the substantial evidence standard. Amrit represented Lotus founder Mitch Kapor and his wife, Freada Kapor-Klein, in the precedent-setting case that received extensive media coverage, including news articles that described it as “the biggest CEQA case the state’s high court will consider,” “a landmark CEQA case…to determine the fundamental legal nature and practical utility of CEQA’s regulatory exemptions,” and a case that affects “how public agencies handle common exemptions from California’s bedrock environmental law.” The Court also established a new two-part test to analyze a project opponent’s assertion that a project presents “unusual circumstances” that require CEQA review.

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