Land Use and Development

Leaders

Amy R. Forbes Los Angeles
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Mary G. Murphy San Francisco
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Overview

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher's sophisticated land use lawyers have experience and routinely advise clients in connection with virtually every type of land use and real property development issue. 

Particular areas in which the Land Use and Development Practice Group has deep proficiency include:

  • Entitlements and permitting
  • Ground leases
  • Development agreements and other transactional documents
  • Eminent domain
  • Public/private partnerships
  • Waterfront development and the public trust doctrine
  • Historic preservation and rehabilitation
  • California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)
  • National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
  • Ballot and referendum matters
  • Other U.S. federal, state and local government laws

We have represented all sides of development deals, including cities and government entities, developers, owners, project proponents and project opponents, proving that our lawyers have the insight and judgment necessary to make the critical decisions facing our clients.  In addition to numerous large and nontraditional projects, we have been major players in development projects that include:

  • Office buildings
  • Business and industrial parks
  • Corporate campuses
  • Housing projects, including all types and price levels
  • Shopping centers, from regional malls to neighborhood and strip centers
  • Golf courses and other resort properties

The team is among the most experienced in the state of California in negotiating and drafting development agreements and long-term ground leases.

Regardless of a client's size or stage of development, we take the collective knowledge of our lawyers, across offices, who have handled the most complex transactions for some of the world's preeminent companies, and make that expertise available in every representation.

Our extensive CEQA litigation work involves representing both real parties in interest and plaintiff/petitioners in cases involving challenges to negative declarations and environmental impact reports (EIRs).

Experience and Recent Representations

  • The Kroenke Group, as lead counsel in its plan to develop 298 acres in Inglewood, California, including the addition of a much-anticipated multibillion-dollar NFL stadium and 6,000 seat performance venue.  Our coordinated team of more than a dozen lawyers accomplished the formation of the venture and entitlement of the property in record time.  Slightly less than two months after the high-profile proposal was announced in January 2015, we secured its approval by the City Council through a groundbreaking and innovative voter-sponsored initiative – in February 2015.  In January 2016 the Kroenke Group, owner of the St. Louis Rams football franchise, secured NFL approval for the Rams to move to Inglewood, returning the team to the Los Angeles region after 20 years.  The sports and entertainment district is set to include the state-of-the-art stadium and performance venue along with a mixed-use development of more than four million square feet of hotel, office, retail and residential space. 
  • The Golden State Warriors, as lead counsel in connection with a San Francisco event center and mixed-use project.  Gibson Dunn's land use team successfully entitled the new event center and mixed-use development in the Mission Bay area of San Francisco.  The event center will host concerts and serve as the home court for the Golden State Warriors NBA team.  In addition, the team assisted in obtaining a certification for the project by the Governor designating the project an Environmental Leadership Project under AB 900.  The team also successfully defended the entitlements in court under the expedited judicial review provided under AB900.   
  • Madison Square Garden, as lead counsel in its acquisition of the Forum in Inglewood, and in negotiations in connection with permitting of its renovation as a premiere concert venue and $18 million rehabilitation funding from the City of Inglewood. 
  • The developers in negotiating the redevelopment of the former U.S. Naval Base at Treasure Island.  The development plans will create a new sustainable San Francisco neighborhood on Treasure Island, centered around a new ferry terminal to provide convenient access to downtown San Francisco, with 6,000 residential units, 300 acres of open space and recreation, and 250,000 square feet of retail space.  The project was approved in mid-2011. 
  • The developer, as lead counsel in its proposed redevelopment of San Francisco's Parkmerced, the largest residential project in San Francisco.  The project involves a $1.2 billion plan to transform the sprawling Parkmerced area from a car-centric neighborhood to a state-of-the-art sustainable neighborhood by replacing 1,500 rent-controlled town homes with 7,200 new energy-efficient units over the next 20 to 30 years.  We successfully obtained approval of a development agreement and related entitlements for the project  and successfully defended the entitlements through the appellate courts of California.    
  • The Paramount Group, successfully entitling a new residential development, 75 Howard, San Francisco, California. 
  • The developers, as lead counsel in their historic revitalization of the San Francisco Ferry Building, built in 1898, that included negotiating the ground lease and development agreement with the Port of San Francisco.  This project involved rehabilitating an important national historic landmark building with federal historic tax credits and complicated multijurisdictional entitlement issues, into a vibrant waterfront destination with office and retail offerings. 
  • The developer of 690 Market Street, San Francisco's first skyscraper and the historic Old Chronicle Building.  The project included a vertical addition to and rehabilitation of this skyscraper, into a 225,000-square-foot mixed-use high-rise building, including residential condos and timeshare residences.  
  • Historic rehabilitation projects, as entitlement counsel, including the Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Building, the original Bank of Italy Building, the Mutual Bank building, and the old San Francisco Chronicle Building, all located in downtown San Francisco, and the Forum in Inglewood and the Roosevelt Building in downtown Los Angeles. 
  • Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, representing the school in development of the campus and adjacent public park in downtown Los Angeles, and in pending residential/school mixed-use high-rise building adjacent to the Variety Arts Center.
  • Representing General Growth Properties in the defense of an eminent domain action filed by the Santa Clara Valley Condemnation Authority involving the Eastridge Shopping Center in San Jose.  The condemnation would take a substantial number of parking spaces and create the potential for significant severance damages. 
  • Representing Avis Budget Car Rental, LLC in the defense of a threatened eminent domain action filed by the Los Angeles MTA involving off-airport maintenance facilities and overflow parking lots operated in conjunction with Avis's on-airport facilities.  The condemnation creates the potential for significant severance damages and loss of business goodwill. 
  • Represented owners of the Warner Hollywood Studios (a.k.a. "the lot") in challenge of an EIR for the La Brea Gateway redevelopment project.  Related litigation involved enforcement of an existing development agreement with the City of West Hollywood and defense of an eminent domain proceeding with reference to the portion of the development property slated for future parking.  The litigation resulted in a favorable settlement for the client that enabled the redevelopment project to proceed while honoring the preexisting development agreement and securing alternative parking for the new development. 
  • Successfully represented the California Farm Bureau in this matter in Colusa County, California, regarding the State's acquisition of prime agricultural land for conversion to habitat without any environmental review under CEQA or any compliance with the Williamson Act, a California statute designed to promote the preservation of agricultural land.  The California Third District Court of Appeal unanimously affirmed a lower court ruling finding the State of California in violation of CEQA by exempting a proposed wetlands project from environmental review.  The appellate court also affirmed an attorneys' fees award of $240,000 and ordered the decision to be published. 
  • Successfully defended a mitigated negative declaration prepared for Warland's 500,000-square-foot carpet warehouse in the City of Cypress.
  • Represented Hacienda La Puente Unified School District in successful challenge of the EIR for the expansion of the Puente Hills Landfill.
  • Representing the owner of Golden Gate Fields Racetrack in Albany, California in development of a card club facility.  Defended CEQA and constitutional legal challenges to project entitlements.
  • Represented the petitioner, along with co-counsel Jan Chatten-Brown, in a challenge to the County of Riverside's certification of an EIR and approval of a Conditional Use Permit for the Eagle Mountain landfill proposed by Mine Reclamation Corp., a Kaiser entity.  The litigation resulted in a judgment overturning the County's approvals and recovery of attorneys' fees. 
  • Represented an international stereo speaker and television manufacturer in challenge of the City of Pomona's approval of a mitigated negative declaration and related land use approvals for a 1,000-ton-per-day trash transfer facility.  The litigation resulted in the City's withdrawal of all approvals.
  • Represented Real Party in Interest United Parcel Service in successful defense of a mitigated negative declaration prepared for UPS' major new truck distribution hub on Los Angeles' North Main Street.​