Meyers Nave Proudly Serves as Go-To Land Use and Environmental Counsel on High-Profile, Large-Scale Projects Throughout California
Our Land Use and Environmental Law Practice attorneys are well known for working on many of California’s most prominent civil infrastructure projects, industrial sites, mixed-use developments, and sports and entertainment facilities. We provide sophisticated transactional, litigation and regulatory compliance assistance to public agencies, business entities and public-private partnerships that develop, plan, build, operate and maintain these large-scale projects throughout the state. The team is led by Amrit Kulkarni, a member of Meyers Nave’s Executive Committee and chair of the Land Use, Environmental Law, and Transportation & Infrastructure Practice Groups.
Our expertise has been recognized since 2014 when Law360 described Meyers Nave as “one of the leading firms for local governments and public agencies throughout the state as well as private clients focused on complex, public-facing transportation and development projects. Meyers Nave’s ability to get large projects completed, secure major litigation wins and resolve crises landed the firm a spot among Law360′s California Powerhouses.” Meyers Nave attorneys are recognized in the 2020 edition of The Best Lawyers in America in Land Use and Zoning Law, Land Use and Zoning Litigation, Environmental Law, Natural Resources Law, and Environmental Litigation. Meyers Nave also received Tier 1 recognition in the 2020 edition of The Best Law Firms in America in the areas of Environmental Law and Natural Resources Law for the Oakland Metropolitan region.
We work on projects that are high-profile, mission-critical, economically and regionally significant, and often involve overlapping jurisdictions of multiple state and federal government agencies. Our work on these projects includes:
- Providing strategic legal guidance to navigate large-scale projects through CEQA, NEPA and other land use and environmental approval processes, including extensive assistance during the master planning stages.
- Coordinating proactively with government regulators, decision-makers, communities and other key stakeholders to avoid and resolve disputes in the project planning and approval phases.
- Litigating hundreds of cases challenging development projects throughout the state and at every level of the judicial process, including the California Supreme Court, with an outstanding track record of success.
- Advising on options for streamlining the CEQA process.
P3 For $2 Billion Passenger Rail Infrastructure Project
In a precedent-setting undertaking, Facebook and infrastructure developer Plenary Group have jointly established a public-private partnership with the San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans) to develop a massive transportation infrastructure project that will create a new commuter rail corridor between Silicon Valley and the East Bay. The project’s estimated cost is $2 billion. Meyers Nave serves as lead land use, environmental and CEQA/NEPA counsel to the private partner for the project, including advising on all local, state and federal permitting issues. The P3 project is a game-changing approach to creating commuting alternatives that help solve metropolitan area traffic congestion between residential neighborhoods and job centers. It will serve as a model for how the public and private sectors can partner on critical infrastructure projects.
Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA)/Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
For more than a decade, Meyers Nave has served as land use and environmental counsel in connection with development and implementation of the Los Angeles International Airport Master Plan’s $13-billion expansion. Our work includes defending the Master Plan against four consolidated lawsuits alleging NEPA, CEQA and California Coastal Act claims. Currently, we represent LAWA in CEQA and NEPA review of the Airfield and Terminal Modernization Program, which includes airfield enhancements, new terminal facilities, and an improved system of roadways leading to the central terminal area. We are also advising on the development of plans to modernize existing air cargo facilities along the Century Boulevard corridor. Our team also advised LAWA in the preparation of Part 161 Studies for LAX and the Van Nuys Airport, and served as outside counsel for the environmental review of the $240 million South Airfield Improvement Project, the first to be implemented under the LAX Master Plan.
Port of Los Angeles Master Plan and Project Implementation
Meyers Nave serves as lead outside counsel in connection with environmental compliance and land use permitting for multiple large‐scale cargo, shipping and transportation projects for container terminals and dockside intermodal railyards. We have reviewed major project EIRs and EISs for CEQA and NEPA compliance, and our representation includes working with the California Air Resources Board, South Coast Air Quality Management District and California Coastal Commission. We have also advised the Port on multiple long‐term planning projects, including the Port Master Plan Update. Meyers Nave has also represented the Port in several major CEQA cases in both the trial and appellate courts and we have won every case we have litigated on POLA’s behalf.
Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad’s Southern California Gateway Project
Meyers Nave represents BNSF in seven consolidated lawsuits and related appeals challenging the company’s planned $700 million rail yard transfer facility on CEQA and other environmental impact and environmental justice grounds, as well as federal preemption issues. The Project will transform the process for moving imported shipping containers from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to a new state‐of‐the art near‐dock rail yard, reducing regional air pollution and traffic by eliminating 1.3 million short-haul truck trips per year. We also are advising BNSF on partnering with the California High‐Speed Rail Authority for CEQA and NEPA review of a project to redevelop existing rail corridors, in coordination with multiple jurisdictions, to operate high‐speed passenger service on a segment of BNSF‐owned track from Los Angeles Union Station to Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center. The project includes coordinated NEPA and Section 404 consultation with the Federal Railroad Administration and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Oakland A’s MLB Stadium and Mixed-Use Development Project
In addition to providing general CEQA advice to the City of Oakland on major development projects, Meyers Nave serves as outside land use and environmental counsel to the City for a waterfront ballpark and mixed-use development project at the Port of Oakland’s Howard Terminal. The project includes a 35,000-seat ballpark, 3,000 residential units, 1.5 million sq. ft. of office, 270,000 sq. ft. of retail, a 400-room hotel and a 3,500-seat performance venue. We are advising on the preparation of the Environmental Impact Report (CEQA), land use entitlements, and project-related agreements including the Development Agreement and Community Benefits Agreement. We also are advising on compliance with special streamlining legislation (AB 734). The project straddles jurisdictions of several agencies with different regulations and permitting processes, including the State Lands Commission (tide and submerged land issues) and the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (San Francisco Bay Plan issues).
Professional Soccer Stadium and Mixed-Use Development Project with Modular Housing
Meyers Nave is providing land use and CEQA advice to Hall Equities Group, the developer of a proposed $750 million soccer stadium project with linkage to the downtown City of Concord BART station. The proposed project includes a 15,000- to 18,000-seat stadium, two hotels with 650 rooms, a 150,000-square foot convention center, retail space and modular multi-family housing. The stadium would be home to a United Soccer League franchise for the Oakland East Bay area.
Sacramento’s $477 Million Downtown NBA Arena and Mixed-Use Development Project
Meyers Nave defeated every legal challenge against the new $477 million downtown arena for the Sacramento Kings NBA team, ensuring completion on schedule to keep the team from moving to Seattle. Our victories included: (1) an eminent domain victory giving the City of Sacramento permission to take over the final piece of downtown property, (2) a published appellate decision denying a CEQA-based challenge to the project, (3) a published appellate decision denying a constitutional challenge to the special statute passed to streamline the City’s CEQA review of the proposed arena (the first appellate decision concerning the constitutionality of project-specific CEQA streamlining statutes), and (4) an 11-day trial alleging that the public-private partnership engaged in a “secret subsidy,” collusion, fraud, concealment, waste and illegal expenditure of public funds, along with alleged illegalities in the City’s bond financing. The trial victory was recognized by The Daily Journal among the “Top Defense Results” of the year.
Mixed-Use Development Project and Transit Station Adjacent to SAP Arena
Since 2011, Meyers Nave has assisted the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) on land use and environmental matters for implementation of long-range plans to expand public rail transit into the South Bay and Silicon Valley, including bringing BART from Fremont through San Jose to Santa Clara. Our cases currently include representing VTA in a lawsuit filed by the San Jose Sharks alleging violations of CEQA and NEPA relating to BART’s multi-year four-station extension into downtown San Jose and Santa Clara. Meyers Nave has advised VTA on multiple transit expansion projects, such as the Eastridge to BART Connector/Capitol Expressway Light Rail Project, a three-mile extension of an elevated transit line and accessory passenger station, and a multi-phased six-station project to bring BART from Fremont through San Jose to Santa Clara, which runs through several jurisdictions and spans the CEQA and NEPA process, Section 404 permitting, and coordination with numerous local, state and federal agencies.
UC Multi-Campus Long-Range Development Plans and Implementation
For more than a decade, Meyers Nave has served as lead land use and environmental counsel to the University of California on high-profile and complex capital development and public-private partnership projects across the statewide system. We currently advise UC on the CEQA review of a new generation of Long Range Development Plans to guide future development to accommodate enrollment growth of over 20,000 new students on campuses throughout the UC system, including UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, UC Riverside, and UC San Diego. For the planning process, we help guide the campuses through the CEQA and regulatory approval process for individual projects that add and expand housing, student services and academic facilities, often using public-private partnerships and innovative funding mechanisms. We also represent UC in the Merced 2020 project, implementing the preliminary aspects of an innovative public-private master development plan to accommodate a planned increase in students from 6,800 to 10,000. The pioneering project involves negotiating a range of new and innovative agreements, such as utility services and transportation agreements with the City of Merced and Merced County, as well as agreements to implement wetland mitigation requirements.
Crossroads of the World Redevelopment Project
Meyers Nave represents the City of Los Angeles in CEQA litigation over redevelopment of the iconic Crossroads of the World site on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. We prevailed at the trial court in expedited CEQA litigation for this significant transit-oriented development project, including 950 apartments and condos, 308‐room hotel, and 190,000 square feet of commercial space in three buildings of up to 32 stories. The Governor certified the project as an Environmental Leadership Development Project under AB 900, entitling it to a compressed litigation schedule that requires resolving trial and appellate litigation in an expedited 270-day timeframe. The project preserves 1930s-era buildings and transforms a prominent Hollywood site with new affordable housing and open space.
8150 Sunset Boulevard Mixed-Use Development Project
Meyers Nave serves as a primary outside land use and environmental litigation counsel to the City of Los Angeles in a number of cases challenging land use and CEQA approvals for a wide range of projects that are part of the City’s long-range efforts to revitalize the downtown area. Governor Brown has designated many of these projects as Environmental Leadership Development Projects, the regulations for which require that all legal challenges be expedited by the courts to be resolved 270 days after project approval. One project is the innovative Frank Gehry-designed project that will create a gateway to Hollywood on the Sunset Strip. We defeated the expedited CEQA litigation challenges for the 330,000-square-foot sustainably designed, mixed-use high-rise development project. The project features five interrelated structures, including two residential buildings (which include affordable and low-income housing), distinct buildings for retail and entertainment, and open spaces for public gathering. Four different CEQA lawsuits were brought against the project, which is designated an Environmental Leadership Development Project.
City of Rancho Cordova’s Largest Land Development Project
Meyers Nave assisted the City of Rancho Cordova in the planning, development and approval of the City’s largest land development project. The 3,828-acre master-planned community consists of 12,189 residential units, nine schools, 247 acres of commercial space, 269 acres of industrial park, 510 acres of wetland preserve, 178 acres of community parks, and 16 miles of trails. Our work also included land use entitlements, an EIR/EIS, development agreement, specific plan, affordable housing agreement, and finance plan. The project will transform a mine tailings site into a community with schools, parks and retail.
Oyster Point Life Science and Technology Campus and Marina Ferry Village
Meyers Nave served as lead negotiator for the City of South San Francisco and its former redevelopment agency for a public-private partnership for a 2.25-million-square-foot life sciences and technology campus, including office and research facilities, two hotels, retail marina and public recreation open space on the San Francisco Bay waterfront. We advised on the preparation and negotiation of (1) a general plan amendment, specific plan amendment, zone change, subdivision map and owner participation agreements, (2) disposition and development agreement that involved the sale of land owned by the City and provided public and private financing for public infrastructure improvements valued at more than $70 million, and (3) agreement with the harbor district regarding facility improvements.
Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (LADWP)
Meyers Nave serves as outside counsel for LADWP on land use, environmental and water rights matters, as well as CEQA litigation defense. We represent LADWP on the environmental review of the Elysian Reservoir Water Quality Improvement Project and the Stone Canyon Reservoir Water Quality Improvement Project—two projects to bring open reservoirs into compliance with updated Environmental Protection Agency drinking water quality standards. Our representation of LADWP in numerous litigated matters includes (1) complex statewide litigation filed by the San Diego County Water Authority challenging the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s adoption of rates and charges for imported water, litigation over LADWP’s water rights to Mammoth Creek and the Owens River, and litigation regarding changes to a mitigation measure in an EIR that analyzed a historic water agreement for the City’s aqueduct and transfer of water from Owens Valley to Los Angeles.