Land Use - Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck

Effective land use representation exists at the intersection of legal services and public policy. This field requires a balancing act, which is why the skills of our team extend beyond transactional law and into the long-term, strategic planning of real estate development and public policy.

With years of national experience working on major development projects in both the public and private sectors, our Land Use Group has developed strategies to help clients plan and appropriately position themselves for maximum profit and engender the best possible community relations. The result is a unique understanding and a deeper level of representation for all facets of real estate, land use and development deals.

Whether through interaction with government officials or referendum initiatives, we are adept at working with governments to shape laws and influence elections to allow important projects to proceed.

Our group represents a variety of clients, including developers, corporations, lending institutions, manufacturers, municipalities, ski areas, retail operations and property buyers. We regularly deal with the interrelated concerns brought up by real estate development and redevelopment, engineering and construction, water rights and remediation, and environmental compliance and the regulatory environment. Our services also include handling zoning hearings, representing clients in front of decision-making boards and helping to negotiate neighborhood issues like noise, lighting and traffic.

Our services are integrated with all the firm’s resources so when necessary the Land Use Group coordinates litigation and collaborates with the firm’s real estate practices. 

Representative Matters
  • Land use and real estate counsel for an innovative urban-infill rental apartment project in Santa Barbara. Brownstein helped the project overcome appeals, and deliver approval of the project concept and a development agreement term sheet in a notoriously difficult jurisdiction for new housing construction. The 82 unit apartment project will include 16 below-market rate units to help address affordable housing scarcity and was granted special exemptions for max building height.

  • Brownstein is providing land use, entitlement and public agency expertise to a 10 MW energy storage project on behalf of an international alternative and renewable energy technology company and helped deliver a unanimous approval of the project. As one of the first utility-scale energy storage projects in Santa Barbara County, this project will provide critical reliability and resilience to the region, and supports local resource capacity, increased renewable energy generation and the County’s greenhouse gas emission reduction goals.

  • Represent natural resources company in its development of major water supply, storage and infrastructure project. Representation includes counseling on all aspects of environmental review and land use requirements and defending the project’s interests in related litigation.

  • Environmental counsel for a private equity firm’s multi-million dollar investment in cannabis cultivation company

  • Represent solar developer in all water, land use and environmental review related matters for its development of a major solar power and battery storage project.

  • Counsel to Vail Resorts, Northstar in strategic and legal advice relating to the permitting of the first Mountain Master Plan for a Northstar ski resort in the North Lake Tahoe area of California. We provided project-critical land use and CEQA advice to help the Northstar team gain unanimous approval of a 20-year mountain master plan for the ski resort which will add six new ski lifts, 300 acres of new ski trails, a high-speed gondola, improved cross-country skiing and trails, a new remote campsite and skier service improvements. We also successfully defended a challenge to a re-zone required for a portion of project before the trial court.

  • Represent The Nature Conservancy regarding coastal land use, water, and property tax issues related to The Dangermond Preserve, an approximately 25,000 acre property on the Gaviota Coast of Santa Barbara County, California, including complying with Coastal Commission orders related to Coastal Act violations by a previous owner of the property.

  • Represented Simon Premium Outlets, part of the Simon Property Group, the leading US-based commercial real estate company and the largest real estate investment trust and largest shopping center operator in the US on the development of the new Denver Premium Outlet mall, on all aspects of the project, including transactional, entitlements, and negotiation of an incentive package. The project is a $134M, 94-acre premium outlet mall in Thornton, Colorado, and is expected to generate circa $100M in revenue for the city of Thornton over its lifetime.

  • Counsel to the real estate developer advising on the transactional due diligence and entitlements for the development of Bighorn Crossing, a mixed-use, 140 unit residential and commercial project in Georgetown, Colorado, which will include townhouses and condominiums, a brew pub and a Microtel by Wyndham.

  • Represented the stockholders of Sweet Earth Inc., a California-based manufacturer of plant-based protein food products, providing land use, RWQCB, and Coastal Act permitting advice to facilitate the sale to Nestlé USA, Inc.

  • Represented Brue Baukol Capital Partners in the acquisition of 64 acres of land near DIA for development. The property is adjacent to the Panasonic development and is directly in the path of progress.

  • Represented Brue Baukol Capital Partners with its partner Brinkman in the acquisition and construction financing of the high profile Foundry development site in Loveland, Colorado. The acquired parcels at Foundry will be developed into two multifamily complexes with mixed-use ground floor components.

  • Represented Brue Baukol Capital Partners in the sale of the storied Hardscrabble Mountain Ranch in Eagle County, Colorado, together with various water rights, to The Conservation Fund, which was thereafter dedicated to Eagle County as open space.

  • Counsel to subsidiaries of Caesars Entertainment Corporation in connection with use permits, design reviews, temporary commercial permits and other land use entitlement applications for various development projects for their casino, restaurant and entertainment properties.

  • Advises various property owners at Hollister Ranch, a private coastal community that includes 135 parcels of 100 acres each, with respect to public access issues.

  • Provide assistance to land use consultant preparing CEQA documentation and processing permits for remediation of oceanfront site in Santa Barbara County, and negotiating and drafting option agreement with non-profit for purchase of site upon completion of remediation. Assisting client in obtaining adequate water supplies for land farming, dust control, and revegetation of impacted site with natives plants and in obtaining permits for relocation of major creek. Permitting included Federal, State, and County agencies. Remediation groundbreaking is imminent.

  • Assisted client in preparing remediated property for sale to park foundation in the middle of heavily industrialized area of Los Angeles County with no nearby park serving local residents. Services included negotiating and documenting sale, drafting appropriate deed restrictions to prevent change of use that could expose seller to risk of liability, resolving/clearing title issues, drafting lease agreement, coordinating with buyer in negotiations with regulatory agencies for bona fide purchaser status under California Land Reuse and Revitalization Act of 2004 (CLRRA), Prospective Purchaser agreement, agreement and covenant not to sue (from DTSC), land use covenant and agreement for environmental restrictions, and related documents. Transaction was completed timely.

  • Represented Mill Creek Residential Trust in connection with the acquisition and development of several multi-family projects in Denver, Colorado. Properties are located in central Denver, RINO, LoHi, DU and Capitol Hill areas.

  • Represented White Lodging Services in connection with the site acquisition, entitlement, design review and construction financing for a new build Hyatt House/Hyatt Place and a new build AC/Le Meriden in downtown Denver, Colorado.

  • Served as land use counsel to Cate School, a prestigious private high school on California's Central Coast. The campus includes 178 acres, 320,000 sf of existing structures (dorms, classrooms, administrative buildings, faculty housing and the like), 640,000 sf of impervious surfaces (including parking for 187 cars), and 585,000 sf of recreational open space (playing fields and the like). The school has existed on the site since 1913. It has secured approval for an update to its Master Plan under which it would construct 180,000 sf of new buildings, 101,000 sf of additional impervious surfaces, and six new faculty homes. An EIR was prepared for the project, and the Master Plan has been approved by the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission. Brownstein has been closely involved in the permitting and environmental review process, including reviewing EIR comment letters and responses to comments, and represented the school before the Planning Commission.

  • Successfully represented GCC Energy, LLC, operator of an existing coal mine in La Plata County, CO, in much contested negotiations and interim hearings with the Board of County Commissioners for a land use permit for continued mine operation ensuring that over 250 local miners' and truck drivers' jobs remained secure.

  • Representing Continuum Partners in the redevelopment of the former University of Colorado Health Sciences Center 9th and Colorado campus, which will include a horizontal and vertical mix of uses, including residential, office, retail, restaurant, hotel and public space. The firm negotiated the acquisition of the former University of Colorado Health Sciences Center at 9th and Colorado in Denver, which included completing all physical and legal due diligence for the site, providing advice with respect to Continuum’s administrative amendment for the GDP encumbering the property, and negotiating with the Denver Urban Renewal Authority for $47.9 million in TIF funds. We continue to oversee all legal work at the 30 acre project, including the development of both the retail and residential components of the site.

  • Led the real estate diligence for Starwood Capital’s acquisition of over $1.3 billion worth of Colorado multi-family projects from Equity Residential. The portfolio acquisition that includes 18 Colorado properties located between Boulder and metro Denver and totaling nearly 6,000 apartment units, was among a larger 72- property deal which also included apartment projects in D.C., Florida, California and Seattle and totaled 23,262 apartment units at a $5.3 billion aggregate sales price.

  • Serves as land use counsel for Casa Dorinda, a Southern California 360-resident retirement community, which secured approval for an update of its campus master plan. The update includes new cottages and other independent living units, an enlarged personal care facility, and a new memory care unit. Brownstein assisted the client in successfully negotiating settlements with a number of neighbors who had concerns about the intensification of use on the campus.

  • Represented the landowner in land use, financing and disposition of $300M Gaylord Hotel Conference Center location and bond closing negotiations.

  • Worked with Indian Springs Operating Company, LLC and their development team to prepare applications and supporting materials to secure land use entitlements for a mixed use commercial project consisting of a casino/tavern, gas station, convenience store, and restaurant with related amenities.

  • Negotiated on behalf of a municipality an amended and restated development agreement and parks agreement with respect to a large master planned community.

  • Served as Nevada counsel to client in connection with the multi-million dollar sale of office buildings and vacant land including imposition of restrictive covenants with respect thereto.

  • Brownstein is collaborating with a greenfield mining company to implement an infrastructure development program that minimizes the length of time necessary to complete the state and federal permitting process.

  • Provided due diligence and transactional advice to commercial entity regarding permitting for stores ranging in size from 4,000 to 17,000 square feet in California.

  • Represents Martin Marietta Materials, the largest aggregate producer in the Western United States, on all land use and environmental issues that arise from its quarrying and manufacturing activities. This work includes representing the company in litigation and administrative proceedings pertaining to alleged air, water and waste violations, as well as zoning and permit approvals.

  • Provided land use and CEQA compliance advice to mixed-use project with 266 apartments and 88,000 square feet of commercial, the largest mixed-use project processed and approved by the City of Goleta, California.

  • Represented the Santa Barbara Cattlemen's Association regarding various land use and environmental issues in administrative proceedings before the County of Santa Barbara, State Water Control Board, and Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board.

  • Litigated to open the Torcido Creek road as means of access to Taylor Ranch property for beneficiaries of Colorado Supreme Court decree in the landmark case of Lobato v. Taylor 70 P.3d 1152 (Colo. 2003), which confirmed rights of descendants of Mexican settlers to access to land under Spanish land grant of 1884 and confirmed in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ending the Mexican/American war.

  • Represented client in purchase of a distressed San Francisco property out of bankruptcy for development of an approximately 81 unit multi-family building. Assisted with land use and CEQA due diligence.

  • Represented cattle ranch in acquisition of land use permit for controversial agricultural building. Successfully defended County's reliance on a CEQA exemption and associated Subdivision Map Act and land use claims.

  • Counsel to MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation on real estate, land use, redevelopment and CEQA issues associated with the construction of a 17,000 square foot museum designed to LEED Silver standards in the City of Santa Barbara's downtown El Pueblo Viejo Landmark District.

  • Counsel to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History in CEQA, land use and real estate issues before the City and County of Santa Barbara regarding their master plan project for updating and expanding the museum property and facilities.

  • Developed strategy and program to obtain development entitlements for a new residence in an existing and established high-end, beach neighborhood in Montecito, CA. Following the controversial entitlement process, managed the LEED Platinum certification process for the contemporary, custom-designed, sustainable residence which will also receive a resolution of commendation from the Board of Supervisors, Santa Barbara County's highest decision making body.

  • Represented a beachfront property owner in Santa Barbara who was facing a condemnation lawsuit from the City of Santa Barbara for reconstruction of a bridge adjacent to the property. Successfully negotiated a settlement of the matter.

  • Successfully represented a prominent cement company in land use, mining, contract and environmental litigation and land use matters regarding its facilities in Colorado, New Mexico, and South Dakota. This work includes assisting the company in obtaining federal government and tribal approval for a mine and conveyor system on federal and tribal property.

  • Represented Orange County toll road agency in seeking State and Federal Coastal permits to complete construction of State Route 241.

  • Performed due diligence for entitlement of multiple lots along the Gaviota Coast.

  • Represented a housing developer in securing a Local Coastal Plan amendment and Coastal Development Permit for a 25-unit single family housing project, and then handled the subsequent litigation and appeal.

  • Represented city in denial of beachfront owner's vested rights claim under the Coastal Act.

  • Represented a Santa Barbara County beachfront property owner in securing a Coastal Development Permit for a new residence on 4.2 acres.

  • Represented a group of coastal property owners who successfully objected to proposed amendments to Santa Barbara County's coastal zoning ordinance (a portion of the Local Coastal Program) which threatened to significantly and adversely affect private property rights.

  • Represented city in challenge to coastal zone land use authority by oil and gas facility.

  • Provided land use representation as special counsel in connection with the acquisition and development of the Ralph L. Carr Justice Complex and Colorado History Center Project.

  • Represented CBS Outdoor Inc. on Denver compliance and land use issues involving outdoor advertising devices, including matters involving ordinance changes to the Denver sign code.

  • Represented Clark County, Nevada, as the operator of McCarran International Airport, in the defense of inverse condemnation airspace takings claims brought by landowners. Successfully argued that the landowners' claims were time-barred under the applicable statute of limitations and obtained dismissal of all causes of action with prejudice. Las Vegas Mall Limited Partnership et al. v. Clark County, Nevada, et al.

  • Represent Edison Mission Energy in zoning and land use matters related to obtaining entitlements for construction of a solar energy project in Santa Barbara County, California. Representation includes environmental review, amendment of the zoning ordinance to provide for solar projects in agricultural zones, and conformity with the Williamson Act (Agricultural Preserve).

  • Successfully represented applicant in development of 550,000 square foot shopping center project involving complex environmental issues, including location within the flight path of municipal airport.

  • Represented a Nevada Indian tribe in the negotiation of a Solar Energy Ground Lease Agreement and other agreements with a large renewable energy developer for the construction of a 200 MW concentrated solar project on approximately 1000 acres of vacant tribal land located in southern Nevada.

  • Counsel to the purchaser/redeveloper of the former Gates Factory site, which consists of 55 acres and 2 million building square feet, located at I-25 and Broadway in Denver. The firm's work for the redevelopment involved brownfields redevelopment, environmental remediation, acquisition of entitlements for a mixed-use transit-oriented development, neighborhood negotiations and structuring of public and private financing.

  • Represented the buyer in providing land use and title due diligence for the acquisition of a 25-acre agricultural property containing several significant historical structures and involving complex conservation easements and related private covenants in the Santa Barbara County foothills.

  • Provided land use due diligence analysis for acquisition of a 350-acre ranch in Ojai, California.

  • Ongoing provision of a wide range of services as City Attorney for city, including drafting ordinances, prosecuting and defending against litigation on a broad range of public agency matters, attending and representing public agency at City Commission and City Council meetings, and advising city regarding Open Meetings, Public Records Act, code enforcement, land use, CEQA, public contracting, property transaction, and related matters.

  • Land use entitlement, CEQA compliance and environmental permitting, for complex 300 high-end single family residential unit project in canyons of Orange County.

  • Land use and CEQA counsel for a 5,000 single-family residential and mixed use project in Inland Empire.

  • Successfully defended CEQA challenge to 800,000 square foot warehouse/distribution center, in state and appellate courts. Provided land use and CEQA compliance advice for expansion facility.

  • Counseled Chicago Grade Landfill, Inc. on land use permitting and Williamson Act issues resulting in a long-term permit for operation expansion.

  • Represent the owners of a premium California winery and vineyards with respect to land use, entitlement and zoning matters.

  • Represented applicant in a phased apartment project totaling over 650 units, resolving a variety of complex issues regarding environmental and permitting issues, negotiation of development agreement, and assistance with the negotiation of public financing.

  • Coordinated land use and zoning issues involving a large commercial office site and subsequently negotiated the sale and leaseback to a commercial developer.

  • Managed consultants for and represented the client before the Santa Barbara County and the California Coastal Commission to obtain entitlements for redevelopment of beach blufftop property.

  • Counsel the owner of Foley Estate Vineyard and his entities in performing acquisition due diligence, and in operational land use, water rights and entitlement issues.

  • Representing developer for large multi-family real estate project in Napa County, California related to water supply and utility issues, including use of groundwater, water transfers, conjunctive use, and water reuse and recycling.

  • Assist with land use due diligence for the acquisition of a 25,000-acre ranch property on the California coast. Ongoing advice regarding natural resource and Coastal Act compliance issues.

  • Represented Capital Pacific Holdings in the land use permitting proceedings and subsequent environmental litigation for a 40-unit condominium project in Santa Barbara.

  • Represented a major university in negotiations involving land use and real estate matters for a casino and hotel development.

  • Represented the developer of Spire Denver, a downtown condo high-rise in a suit against the lender for abandoning the loan.

  • Process entitlements and coordinate environmental review for the subdivision of a 2,000-acre ranch in coastal Santa Barbara County.

  • Represent owners in processing of multi-agency entitlements for an existing equestrian academy located in rural Santa Barbara County.

  • Handle ongoing constraints and opportunities analysis for a 4,000-acre ranch in coastal Santa Barbara County related to land use, agricultural and natural resources planning. Brownstein is also coordinating related entitlements for two single-family residences and managing the process for LEED for Homes certification.

  • Represented the buyer in providing land use due diligence for the acquisition of a 550-acre ranch in the Santa Barbara County foothills.

  • Defended Clark County, Nevada against a landowner's inverse condemnation airspace takings claims alleging damages in excess of $2.7 billion. The result was a summary judgment entered in favor of Clark County on issue of liability and the Court disposed of the case in its entirety. 70 Limited Partnership v. Clark County, Nevada et al.

  • Assisted Terroir Hotel & Resort Fund, LP in the acquisition of a Santa Barbara historical inn and adjacent parcels of land for the preservation of the property and development of a complementary luxury resort. Following the acquisition, Brownstein advised on land development issues.

  • Represented a California health club organization in the preparation of a property report assessing land use opportunities and constraints relative to long-term planning for a community recreation facility.

  • Represented a client before Santa Barbara County to obtain entitlements for the development of a custom-designed, sustainable home. Brownstein also assisted in easement issues and managed the LEED certification process for the property.

  • Represented a homeowner group in challenging the application for a permit for a major condominium development.

  • Represented the Colorado Community College System in the development of a 150-acre campus at Lowry. Brownstein handled negotiations involving federal limitations, multi-jurisdictional land use matters and related real estate issues for this mixed use development.

  • Developed water supply strategy for 80,000-acre ranch property on the California Central Coast, including development of water rights and imposition of a conservation easement.

  • Represented internationally renowned music conservatory in gaining comprehensive land use permits for its campus. Directed permit processing, oversaw environmental review compliance and public hearing presentations, and negotiated the settlement of threatened litigation by project opponents

  • Providing ongoing representation for a variety of residential, commercial, industrial, and non-profit applicants for development projects.

  • Provided land use and CEQA compliance advice to the first wind project in Santa Barbara County.

  • Provided land use and CEQA compliance advice to a major utility regarding a large transmission line project traversing two counties.

  • Counsel to a cannabis cultivator in challenging a County Ordinance which threatened to limit hoop house usage in key cultivation areas. Hoop houses, or temporary greenhouses, are essential tools for California Central Coast agriculture which yield resource savings as well as extend the growing season. Along with industry colleagues, Brownstein’s efforts helped deliver a compromise which exempts most hoops on actively cultivated land from prohibitive land use and building codes.

  • Counsel to a joint venture of Mile High Development and Koelbel & Company on complex infill redevelopment of 21.5-acre former Regatta Plaza site in Aurora. Our work includes obtaining approval of multiple urban renewal plans by the Aurora Urban Renewal Authority, negotiation of public finance and redevelopment agreement, phased land swap with King Soopers and land sale in exchange for new lease with KeyBank.

  • Counsel to Westminster Promenade West in its mixed-use redevelopment. The project includes commercial, multi-family residential, live-work, and vertically integrated office, retail and hotel space. Our work includes obtaining approval from Westminster City Council for an amendment to the Comprehensive Plan and Master Official Development Plan, and securing $4.295 million in sales and admission tax incentives to support the project.

  • Provided land use and CEQA compliance advice to a major university in West Los Angeles for master plan project. The master plan project involved adding 2,000,000 new and replacement square feet residential and non-residential facilities to the campus.

  • Counsel to Zocalo Community Development in the negotiation of a redevelopment agreement with Denver Urban Renewal Authority for up to $2.8 million in reimbursable project costs to facilitate the rehabilitation of the historic 101 Broadway building in Denver. The plans include first-floor retail development with affordable housing above.

  • Successfully defended cannabis cultivator against appeal of an approved County land use permit for outdoor cannabis cultivation. Ultimately, the project secured a unanimous approval from the Planning Commission and the County Board of Supervisors for a 22-acre outdoor cannabis farm, one of the largest operational, fully-permitted cannabis farms in California. Defending against the appeal required successful demonstration that cannabis farms can co-exist with traditional farms, including vineyards and tasting rooms and educating the public and decision makers on the environmental and economic benefits of sustainable, sun grown cannabis farming.

  • Counsel to Zocalo Community Development in its successful application and PUD rezoning before Denver City Council for a Sloan’s Lake property. The rezoning enables a mixed-use redevelopment, comprised of 160 affordable apartments, 10 affordable condominiums, and 150 market-rate condominiums. We also drafted the development agreement and affordable covenants with the City Attorney’s Office and Denver Economic Development & Opportunity office.

  • Special counsel to Commerce City Urban Renewal Authority in the redevelopment of the 65-acre former Mile High Greyhound Park property. Our work includes brokering a master redevelopment agreement and purchase and sale agreement for conveyance of Authority-owned property to Delwest for the redevelopment.

  • Client operates an innovative composting operation providing critical composting services for municipal and agricultural green waste and works in collaboration with university research scientists to investigate the potential for carbon sequestration and soil restoration. Brownstein successfully represented the client following the County taking the position that the client’s operations should be covered by a conditional use permit (CUP) and needed environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), opening their operations up to litigation risk as well as considerable expense. Brownstein successfully documented the right to operate by right, without a CUP, via a detailed accounting of County Code, and relevant exemptions. County withdrew its demand for a CUP application and CEQA review.

  • Represented the purchase/redeveloper of an environmentally contaminated 3.5 acre site in downtown San Francisco to be developed into a $200 million mixed-use project compound on 400 residential units and 50,000 square feet of communal space.

  • Provided land use and CEQA compliance advice regarding Recirculated Environmental Impact Report for controversial mixed use project in West Los Angeles with 2,600 residential units and 325,000 square feet of office and retail space.

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Meet The Team

Nicole R. Ament Shareholder T 303.223.1174
Peter N. Brown Shareholder T 805.882.1401
Steven A. Amerikaner Shareholder T 805.882.1407
Christopher A. Jacobs Shareholder T 805.882.1412
Carolynne C. White Shareholder T 303.223.1197
Beth Collins Shareholder T 805.882.1419
Alicia Harrison Senior Land Use Project Manager T 805.882.1442
Joanna S. Kaufman Land Use Planner T 805.882.1426
Patsy Stadelman Price Senior Land Use Project Manager T 805.882.1424
Edward N. Barad Of Counsel T 303.223.1108
Chris Frahm Shareholder T 619.702.6917
Diane C. De Felice Shareholder T 310.500.4613
Elisabeth L. Esposito Associate T 916.594.9717
Jessica L. Diaz Associate T 805-882-1416
Wayne F. Forman Shareholder T 303.223.1120
Christopher R. Guillen Associate T 805.882.1452
Stephanie Osler Hastings Shareholder T 805.882.1415
Blair E. Lichtenfels Shareholder T 303.223.1190
Kimberly E. Leefatt Associate T 310.500.4607
Mark J. Mathews Shareholder T 303.223.1179
Rebecca L. Miltenberger Shareholder T 702.464.7052
Caitlin Quander Shareholder T 303.223.1233
Michael P. Smith Associate T 303.223.1150
Ronda L. Sandquist Shareholder T 303.223.1191
Susan F. Petrovich Shareholder T 805.882.1405
Steven O. Sims Shareholder T 303.223.1149
Jacob P. Whitted Shareholder T 303.223.1209
Ryan Waterman Shareholder T 619.702.7569