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CEQA/NEPA

Clients seek out Meyers Nave when approvals of projects are processed under CEQA, NEPA, and other related laws – and when those projects are challenged in court. Our team has overseen the preparation of hundreds of Environmental Impact Reports under CEQA and Environment Impact Statements under NEPA. We have also litigated hundreds of environmental law cases throughout the state and at every level of the judicial process, including the California Supreme Court, and have an outstanding track record of success.

Many clients hire us to help “bullet-proof” Environmental Impact Reports to withstand litigation. We review and advise on Significant Environmental Impacts, Mitigation Measures, Alternatives to the Proposed Project, Discussion of Cumulative Impacts, and Social Effects. We advise on the scope and outline of the environmental review, comments on the administrative draft, responses to comments, and environmental findings. We have expertise in the ever-changing fields of traffic, air quality and climate change impact analysis, and review technical reports addressing these issues.

Since CEQA review can be lengthy and costly, we inform clients of opportunities for streamlined review, including CEQA exemptions, opportunities to “tier” off a prior environmental document, use of addendum to a prior EIR or Negative Declaration, and legislative provisions that fast track projects certified as Environmental Leadership Development Projects.

Our CEQA/NEPA project expertise includes:
• Civil infrastructure (power, water, transportation)
• Commercial, residential and mixed-use developments
• Freight rail projects and railyards
• Industrial and manufacturing facilities
• Master-planned communities
• Passenger rail transit systems
• Port, harbor and airport expansions
• Sports, entertainment, convention centers
• University, healthcare and office campuses

Representative Matters

  • $2 Billion Passenger Rail Infrastructure Project. Facebook and infrastructure developer Plenary Group established a public-private partnership with the San Mateo County Transit District 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.
  • Los Angeles World Airports/Los Angeles International Airport. For more than a decade, Meyers Nave continues to serve as land use and environmental counsel in connection with the 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 and serve 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 environmental compliance and land use permitting counsel 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 advised 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 have an outstanding track record of litigation victories since we began our representation on POLA’s behalf.
  • Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad’s Southern California Gateway Project. Meyers Nave represents BNSF, the largest freight railroad network in the U.S., 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. 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. 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 to operate high‐speed passenger service on a segment of BNSF‐owned track from Los Angeles Union Station to Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center.
  • 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 many high-profile and complex capital development projects across the statewide system. We currently advise UC on the CEQA review of new Long Range Development Plans to guide future development on campuses throughout the UC system. We help guide the campuses through the CEQA and regulatory approval process for projects that add and expand administration offices, student and workforce housing, student services, academic buildings, research centers and healthcare facilities.
  • 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).
  • City of Anaheim’s “Big A 2050” Plan for Orange County’s only MLB Stadium. Meyers Nave serves as lead land use and CEQA counsel to the City of Anaheim for a mixed-use development and stadium project, known as Big A 2050, on the site of an existing Los Angeles Angels stadium. The project envisions redevelopment of the stadium site to introduce large-scale residential, office, and retail/entertainment uses to create a year-round use. We advise on all entitlements and environmental review required to bring the plan to fruition including a Disposition and Development Agreement, site plans, tentative maps and other required approvals.
  • Sacramento’s $477 Million Downtown NBA Arena and Mixed-Use Development Project. Meyers Nave defeated every legal challenge against the $477 million downtown arena for the Sacramento Kings NBA team. Our victories included a published appellate decision denying a CEQA-based challenge to the project and 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).
  • 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. Meyers Nave also advises LADWP on the preparation of CEQA documents for individual water and electric facilities, and on developing tools for engaging stakeholders early in planning processes. Meyers Nave also represented LADWP in complex litigation challenging rates and charges, protecting water rights, and defending against CEQA challenges to individual projects, including 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.
  • 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.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, including 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 and Section 404 permitting.
  • Crossroads of the World Redevelopment Project. Meyers Nave represented 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 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.
  • 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. 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. Four different CEQA lawsuits were brought against the project, which is designated an Environmental Leadership Development Project.
  • California Supreme Court’s “biggest CEQA case”. In Berkeley Hillside Preservation v. City of Berkeley (S201116, March 2, 2015), the California Supreme Court issued a highly anticipated decision 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 Kulkarni, Chair of Meyers Nave’s Environmental law Practice, represented Lotus founder Mitch Kapor and his wife, Freada Kapor-Klein, in this victory in a 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.