Climate Change & Sustainability

California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)

We have extensive experience advising clients in CEQA issues. Our attorneys achieve client goals - from guidance on project and programmatic Environmental Impact Report (EIR) preparations to special CEQA counsel for municipalities and avoidance of mitigation requirement expenditures for developers.  Our CEQA experience covers all CEQA documentation, including categorical exemptions, negative and mitigated negative declarations, and environmental impact reports of all types.

Our lawyers defend EIRs before city councils and have a strong record of approvals that are unchallenged or withstand legal challenge.  We handle all types of EIRs - program EIRs, master EIRs, Specific Plan EIRs, project EIRs and supplemental and addendum EIRs.  From the outset of project development, we assist our clients in crafting critical portions of the EIR, such as Project Description, Project Objectives, and Project Alternatives. This maximizes the likelihood of project approval and its ability to withstand possible legal attack while also minimizing project expense and delay. 

Working closely with our Land Use Group attorneys, we advise clients on addressing environmental issues relating to the siting of projects which create real or purported concerns. We have considerable experience assisting our clients in complex, sensitive resource issues involving wetlands, endangered or threatened species, streambed alterations, water quality impacts and historic resources critical to a successful development.

Our attorneys assist in the development of mitigation monitoring and reporting programs that are practical and cost-effective in their implementation.  When necessary, our lawyers vigorously and successfully defend such documentation against legal challenges. 

With the recent focus on evaluating greenhouse gas emissions as a potential area of challenge to the adequacy of CEQA documents, we assist in tailoring the analysis to reflect the evolving case law in the context of the particular project.

Similarly, in the case of sustainably-oriented projects, we evaluate the green building features incorporated to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and similar standards so as to optimize their value as mitigation measures in the CEQA process.

Our Firm is often retained to take on projects facing concerted and sophisticated opposition, often late in the CEQA process. Greenberg Glusker represents both project proponents and opponents. We draw upon firmwide resources to provide our clients with a full complement of necessary legal services.

For more information, please contact David E. Cranston.

Representative Experience

  • Served as special counsel to the Los Angeles Coliseum Commission as to CEQA and related regulatory matters in its negotiations with the National Football League.
  • Advised and represented Costco Wholesale Corporation in preparation of EIRs for its projects in La Quinta and National City, CA.  Obtained approval by the respective city councils and projects were not legally challenged. This favorable outcome saved our client millions of dollars by its avoidance of potential traffic, wetlands, sensitive species, replacement of natural resources mitigation and other requirements.
  • Counseled developer of mixed-use, 336-acre project in Chino Hills, CA in preparation of EIR, which was approved by the city council and not legally challenged.  Helped the client avoid additional, costly mitigation measures and reduced density project alternatives.  In addition, we persuaded the California Dept. Fish & Game (Streambed Alteration Agreement), the Regional Water Quality Control Board, Santa Ana Division (Section 401 Water Quality requirements) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Section 404 Permit) to issue the required permits.  This saved the client many thousands of dollars in mitigation and project delay expenses.
  • Represented the developers of the Montage Hotel site, a public-private partnership between the developer and the City of Beverly Hills, in preparation of the EIR. We addressed complex urban in-fill issues including traffic, air quality and historic resources and the EIR successfully withstood legal attack by project opponents at the trial court and appellate levels.
  • Served as special CEQA counsel to the City Attorney of Huntington Beach and the city on protecting the 1,600-acre Bolsa Chica Wetlands from a substantial residential development.
  • Served as special CEQA counsel to the City Attorney of the City of Industry and the city on its proposal to construct a massive waste materials transfer facility using long-haul rail to remote disposal locations.
  • Advised a private developer of an approximately 600,000-square-foot industrial warehouse and distribution facility on how to address greenhouse gas emissions individually and cumulatively in the project. Our advice resulted in an intensive analysis of the proposed use of the facility and the specific nature of anticipated vehicular movements and vehicle miles traveled associated with the project in light of established air quality and traffic agencies' guidelines.  Contrary to the initial conclusions by air quality consultants, the analysis resulting from our legal advice demonstrated no net increase in GHG emissions, and supported an argument of zero GHG emissions and no mitigation required. 
  • Counseled California dairy trade associations regarding greenhouse gas emissions anticipated from the development of new dairies. Strategized on addressing comments and concerns raised by the state attorney general’s office and others.
  • Represented the developer of a mixed-use development located on former industrial land against challenges that the development and its uses would pose a health risk to the community. Successfully worked with community groups and the local authorities to remove opposition to the project on these grounds.
  • Achieved client goals in our representation of the developer of a golf course community opposed to a large-scale biosolid composting facility proposed by Waste Management. Our opposition efforts on local, regional and statewide fronts led Waste Management to abandon the project.