Linda C. Klein

Partner

Overview

Linda Klein’s practice focuses on land use law, with an emphasis on the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). She routinely helps clients navigate the complex regulatory hurdles facing development projects in California. From the initial acquisition to the entitlement approvals, she ensures project files contain evidence to support the agency’s determination. If a project approval is challenged, Linda vigorously defends her clients’ interests through to final judicial hearings in trial and appellate courts.

Among the thorny issues Linda routinely faces in getting projects approved is quantifying and addressing the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The treatment of GHG emissions under CEQA is an area of rapid change and Linda is attuned to the latest developments. She draws on her experience and informed perspective to minimize risks for her clients while protecting their projects from unworkable alterations or mitigation.

One of the unique attributes Linda brings to client matters is her understanding of the building process. With a background in civil engineering and architecture, she works productively with lead agencies to ensure regulation is clear and practical, so that once approved, a project can smoothly proceed. Linda also uses her knowledge of architecture to advise clients on historic resource issues, including assessing whether a building is historic, navigating historic regulations, and crafting appropriate mitigation measures.

Over the course of her career, Linda has worked on a diverse range of projects, including corporate headquarters, large mixed-use master planned communities, industrial facilities, and numerous independent and charter school projects. She has successfully litigated a number CEQA cases, including several that have resulted in published appellate decisions.

Prior Legal Experience

Linda clerked for the Honorable Sandra S. Ikuta of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. After her clerkship, Linda was a litigation associate at Irell & Manella, LLP.

Representative
Matters

Cases Resulting in Published Opinions

Cleveland National Forest Foundation v. San Diego Association of Governments (2017) 3 Cal.5th 497.  Defeated a challenge to the agency’s chosen greenhouse gas thresholds to evaluate climate change impacts in the environmental impact report for its Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy.

Friends of the Eel River v. North Coast Rail Authority (2017) 3 Cal.5th 677.  Represented a private railroad operator in a case concerning whether federal law preempts the application of CEQA to rail operation.

Golden Door Properties, LLC v. County of San Diego (2020) 50 Cal.App.5th 467.  Represented the lead agency on appeal of a trial court ruling that its climate action plan was inconsistent with its general plan and a mitigation measure relying on carbon credits violated CEQA, winning a reversal of the first claim.

Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians v. Brown (2014) 229 Cal.App.4th 1416.  Defeated a CEQA suit challenging Governor's decision to allow land to be taken into trust for Indian gaming. The case holds that the Governor’s decision is not a project under CEQA.

Parker Shattuck Neighbors v. City of Berkeley (2013) 222 Cal.App.4th 768.  On behalf of the project applicant, defeated a CEQA challenge to a mitigated negative declaration for an urban infill, mixed-use project.

Silverado Modjeska Recreation and Parks District v. County of Orange (2011) 197 Cal.App.4th 282.  Helped defeat a CEQA challenge to a residential subdivision in Orange County.

Other Litigation Experience

Successfully defended an affordable housing project from a general plan consistency challenge in an expedited litigation, allowing the project to meet the state’s strict requirements to obtain the tax credit financing necessary to its development.

Successfully defended a CEQA challenge to a commercial development in San Jose from a neighboring competitor, including overcoming a challenge to the completeness of the administrative record.

Successfully defended a supplemental environmental impact report prepared for a corporate headquarters in Silicon Valley.

Successfully lowered the awarded attorneys’ fees in several attorneys’ fees motions.

Entitlement and Regulatory Compliance Experience

Institutional

Charter Schools, Various Jurisdictions.  Ongoing representation of developer in securing entitlements for charter schools in various Northern California jurisdictions. 

Independent Schools, Oakland.  Ongoing representation of two independent schools in Oakland.

Residential

Entitled numerous residential development projects, ranging from 46 units to approximately 200 units, including in the cities of Los Altos, Foster City, South San Francisco, Berkeley, Concord, and Pleasant Hill, and in the counties of Contra Costa and San Benito.

Mixed-Use

Oak Knoll, Oakland.  Represented a developer in securing entitlements for 918 residential units and 82,000 square feet of commercial space, including ensuring that the CEQA document was adequate, addressing difficult historic resource issues, drafting the zoning, and negotiating with the city.

Office/Research and Development

Corporate Headquarters, Los Gatos.  Represented developer in securing entitlements for a 485,000-square-foot office campus in Los Gatos, including drafting a successful ballot measure in support of the project.

Corporate Headquarters, Sunnyvale.  Represented two corporations in their expansions of respective headquarters in Sunnyvale. 

Industrial

Ongoing representation of an energy company on CEQA compliance issues related to work in an area with numerous tribal cultural resources.

Provided advice on compliance with the National Historic Preservation Act to an industrial operator on a site with numerous cultural (historic, archeological, and tribal) resources.

Ongoing representation of owners of industrial facilities on CEQA and zoning issues in various Northern California jurisdictions.

Land Use Due Diligence

Provide developers and investors the land use information they need to decide whether to proceed with acquisition, development, or investment.

Publications &
Speaking Engagements

Publications

Santa Clara County Trial Court Upholds Another Housing Project Using SB 35, CCN Client Alert, May 2020.

Cultural Resources Chapter, Wetlands and Endangered Species, Solano Press, 2019.

Struggling to Localize a Global Impact: Climate Change Analysis Under the California Environmental Quality Act, Real Property Reporter, July 2019.

Hot Market, Cold Shoulder, Builder and Developer, June 2018.

New Rules for Old Buildings, Lay of the Land Blog, February 2018.

CEQA Changes Proposed, Lay of the Land Blog, May 2017.

Is the Second Time the Charm? It’s Time to Comment on CEQA’s Proposed New Transportation Guidelines, Lay of the Land Blog, February 2016.

State High Court Decision May Complicate CEQA Process, Daily Journal, December 2015.

The California Supreme Court Issues Important New Rulings on Analysis of Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Fully Protected Species, and Requirements for California Environmental Quality Act Litigation, Cox, Castle & Nicholson (“CCN”) Client Alert, November 2015.

While The Project May Change, The Standard Of Review Should Remain The Same, Environmental Law News, Vol. 24, No. 2, Fall 2015.

The California Supreme Court’s Newhall Ranch CEQA Decision, November 2015.

A Beachfront Hotel for Santa Cruz, Lay of the Land Blog, January 2015.

Privileges and Waivers and Records, Oh My!, Public Law Journal, Volume 37, Number 2, April 2014.

Court Upholds Exemption For Residential Projects That Are Consistent With Approved Specific Plans, CCN Client Alert, April 2013.

2012 Second Quarter CEQA Case Law Update, CCN Quarterly CEQA Case Law Update, August 2012.

2012 First Quarter CEQA Case Law Update, CCN Quarterly CEQA Case Law Update, April 2012.

2011 Fourth Quarter CEQA Case Law Update, CCN Quarterly CEQA Case Law Update, February 2012.

2011 Third Quarter CEQA Case Law Update, CCN Quarterly CEQA Case Law Update, November 2011.

The Ninth Circuit’s Dicta on Dictum, Century City Lawyer, February 2011.

Speaking Engagements

Addressing GHG Emissions within CEQA: Carbon Offsets and Net Zero Initiatives, Air and Waste Management Association’s Climate Change Conference, December 2019.

Air Pollution and Public Heath – The Friant Ranch Conundrum, American Planning Association California Conference, September 2019.

Mitigating GHG Impacts: Carbon Offsets and Net Zero Initiatives, Association of Environmental Professionals (“AEP”) Annual State Conference, March 2019.

Simplifying CEQA: A Tale of Two Cities, AEP Annual State Conference, March 2019.

CEQA Roundtable Update on Greenhouse Gas Emissions, San Francisco Bar Association, September 2018.

Tips and Tricks to CEQA, San Francisco Chapter of Urban Land Institute (“ULI”), 2018.

The Future is Now: Analyzing GHG Emissions in CEQA Documents, AEP Annual State Conference, March 2018, and San Francisco AEP Chapter, May 2018.

Translating CBIA v. BAAQMD: Bridging the Gap between Holding and Practice, AEP Annual Conference, May 2017.

The Governor Speaks . . . And Then What? Figuring Out the Role of Executive Orders for Development and in CEQA Documents, AEP Annual Conference and San Francisco Chapter, March 2016.

The Legal Reasons the Rent Is Too Damn High, San Francisco Bay Area Renters Federation Speakers’ Series, December 2015.

Get with the Program: Successfully Addressing Common CEQA Claims Related to Programmatic Documents, AEP Annual State Conference, April 2015.

SB 375 Roundtable, AEP San Francisco Chapter, May 2014.

The Development Approval Process in California, Lorman Seminar Series, April 2014.

Privilege and the CEQA Administrative Record: Preparing Environmental Documents in Anticipation of Litigation, AEP Annual State Conference, March 2014.

Awards &
Affiliations

Awards & Recognition

  • Northern California Rising Star, 2013-2020
  • Northern California Super Lawyers Top Women Attorneys, 2018-2020

Professional Affiliations

  • California Association of Environmental Professionals, Member
  • Urban land Institute, Policy and Practice Committee 

Bar and Court Admissions

  • State Bar of California

Education

  • J.D., University of California, Los Angeles School of Law, 2009, Order of the Coif
  • M.Arch., Yale School of Architecture, 2001
  • B.S., Rice University, 1998, magna cum laude
  • B.A., Rice University, 1996, magna cum laude