Cox Castle pairs the depth and breadth of our land use practitioners’ expertise with our extraordinary trial and appellate experience to deliver unparalleled land use litigation advice and counsel to our clients. We bring a deep understanding of the land use process honed through the successful management of contested matters. We have extensive appellate experience, including the California Supreme Court and have worked successfully throughout California and nationally on a broad range of complex matters. Our seamless integration of land use and litigation expertise, tested and refined from the administrative process through trial and the courts of appeal, allows us to offer sophisticated, practical representation. We work with our clients’ goals in mind, and our expertise allows us to provide continuity of service from our land use experience to litigation and everything in between.

We work across several industries, including renewable energy, homebuilding, industrial, office, retail, hospitality, healthcare, senior housing, life sciences, affordable housing, mixed-use and master-planned projects.

Our litigation experience spans a broad spectrum of land use issues on both the local and federal levels:

  • California Coastal Act                                                 
  • California Endangered Species Act
  • California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)   
  • Clean Air Act 
  • Clean Water Act                                                         
  • Cortese-Knox (LAFCo)
  • Density Bonus Law                                                       
  • Development Agreement Law
  • Elections Law                                                                 
  • Endangered Species Act
  • Housing Accountability Act                                     
  • Housing Crisis Act
  • Migratory Bird Treaty Act                                         
  • Mitigation Fee Act
  • National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)         
  • Planning and Zoning
  • Property Rights and Procedural Protections     
  • Storm Water Management
  • Subdivision Map Act                   
  • Water Supply issues                   
  • Williamson Act - CA

We also have extensive experience with key contractual and regulatory issues arising in land use matters, including Reimbursement Agreements and Community Facilities Districts, Disposition and Development Agreements (DDA), and ongoing matters arising from the termination of redevelopment agencies in California, including Owner Participation Agreements.


  • Represented a public entity client in month-long trial of eminent domain action for the condemnation of substantial acreage that owner was in process of entitling for residential development; successful defense motions in limine at trial court level on issues relating to highest and best use, severance damages, and stigma damages.

  • Represented a real party in interest developer in CEQA case involving challenge to city's negative declaration for a housing project.

  • Represented a property owner in an eminent domain action, obtaining an opinion from the Court of Appeal upholding the right of the property owner to present evidence to the jury on more than $2 million in damages to the property – reversing a ruling by the trial court.

  • Obtained summary judgment for hospital association in connection with City of Inglewood's grant of special use permit to build psychiatric facility. Court of Appeal affirmed.

  • Represented amicus curiae in CEQA case involving issue of whether EIR prepared by project applicant's consultant could be adopted by lead agency. Court of Appeal upheld lead agency's decision.

  • Represented a developer in connection with CEQA challenge to the issuance of a building permit for the construction of a proposed office tower. Court of Appeal reversed trial court's decision not to grant preliminary injunction.

  • Represented a real party in interest developer in case involving city council member's CEQA challenge to City of Los Angeles approval of ordinance authorizing construction of office complex. Trial court held petitioner lacked standing and court of appeal affirmed.

  • People of the State of California v. BBC Properties, County of San Bernardino Superior Court, Case NO. SCVSS 104541. In this matter, Caltrans initiated this eminent domain action to acquire property to widen the 210 Freeway near Rialto. The Caltrans appraiser valued the property at $72,500 and the matter settled shortly before trial for $1,620,000.

  • Metropolitan Water District of Southern California v. Campus Crusade for Christ, Inc., County of San Bernardino Superior Court, Case No. SCV35498. Represented the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California through trial and appeal to the California Supreme Court in this extremely complex eminent domain matter involving the acquisition of property for the Inland Feeder project.

  • People of the State of California v. June H. Schanbacher-Lindquis, San Mateo County Superior Court, Case Numbers CIV 452016 and CIV 452018. Represented the owner of property located on the east side of SR 1 in San Mateo County. The property was sought by the State for a new alignment of SR 1 through the "Devil's Slide" area. The initial offer by the State was $1,022,900. The matter ultimately settled for $3,018,000.

  • County of Riverside v. Morita, Riverside County Superior Court, Case No. RIC 398757. In this matter, the County of Riverside sought property for a park. The County's initial offer for the full take was $1.3 million. The matter ultimately settled shortly before trial for $3 million.

  • City of Lake Forest v. Buchheim Properties I, et al., Orange County Superior Court, Case No. 04CC06207. Represented the ground lessee of property sought by the City of Lake Forest for a highway improvement project. The primary issue addressed in this matter was the allocation of the just compensation between the lessor and lessee. The initial settlement offer was $30,000 and the final settlement was for $929,403.

  • San Gabriel Redevelopment Agency v. Liu, Los Angeles County Superior Court Case No. BC 325199. Represented the owner of a shopping center sought by the Redevelopment Agency for redevelopment. The initial offer by the Agency was $3.9 million. The matter settled shortly before trial for $4.45 million.

  • City of Los Angeles v. Chen, Los Angeles County Superior Court Case No. BC 301998. In this matter the City of Los Angeles filed an eminent domain action to acquire property for a fire station. The City's initial offer was $3.15 million and was settled prior to trial for $4.2 million.

  • City of Oakland v. Oakland Raiders. Represented the Los Angeles Coliseum Commission in this very different eminent domain action brought by the City of Oakland to force the Raiders to return to Oakland from Los Angeles. The representation included trial and three hearings before the Court of Appeal and ultimately resulted in the decision of the Court of Appeal in City of Oakland v. Oakland Raiders,174 Cal .App. 3d 414 (1985), upholding the trial court's decision barring the City of Oakland from acquiring the Raiders since the action violated the commerce clause of the United States Constitution because the Raiders were a business engaged in interstate commerce.

  • Distribution Warehouse Project. Represented large retail company in connection with the development of a 3,360,000 square foot distribution warehouse in the city of Rialto. The firm represented the distribution warehouse developer during the property acquisition and entitlement process, including the preparation of an EIR for the project and defending that EIR when it was challenged. The lawsuit was settled on favorable terms for our client.

  • Successfully defended dismissal of a CEQA and Subdivision Map Act petition challenging the approval of final maps.

  • Successfully defended a developer against claims under CEQA and the Water Supply Assessment Act alleging that the water supply assessment was inadequate.

  • Represented client in a challenge to a negative declaration issued by the CalTrans for a culvert project. Obtained favorable settlement for client that included partial payment of attorney's fees and rescission of negative declaration.

  • Successfully defended a developer against claims under CEQA and the Subdivision Map Act challenging approval of final maps.

  • Successfully defended, at both the state trial and appellate court level, a regional habitat conservation plan challenged under CEQA, CESA and the federal ESA.

  • Successfully defended, at both the trial court and appellate court level, a public agency's programmatic environmental impact report that was challenged on numerous issues, including alternatives, water quality, and EIR recirculation.

  • Represented a developer in a $40 million dispute against owner relating to owner's termination of developer under development agreement.

  • Represented 120 landowners in action against various public entities over the flooding of their development by Sespe Creek when it overflowed.

  • Represented various land title companies over interpretation of the Federal Statute entitled Swamp & Overflow Act of 1852.

  • Represented a water district in the adjudication of a water basin against 2,617 defendants and obtained stipulated judgment and water allocation among the owners.

  • Represented a water district in the successful adjudication of the respective rights of overlying and appropriative users of a water basin.

  • Successfully defended a client in claim by the government relating to boundary lines and riparian rights.

  • Represented a landowner in lawsuit against the County of Santa Barbara concerning improper actions under the Brown Act.

  • Represented a landowner in CEQA/Planning and Zoning lawsuit brought to challenge entitlements for residential development on the coast of Santa Barbara.

  • Obtained favorable settlement for developer that had entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Redevelopment Agency of the City of Montebello whereby they were going to enter into a formal Development Agreement but did not because they Agency alleged the developer had breached the agreement

  • Obtained favorable settlement for developer, which had entered into a Development Agreement with the City of Pomona and the Redevelopment Agency of the City to build a retail project.

  • Advised a developer in response to litigation challenging adequacy of water supply assessment.

  • Assisted landowners in securing entitlements for a 1.5 million square foot retail project in the City of Livermore. Obtained trial court victory in CEQA, Williamson Act, and Community Facilities District litigation filed against the project by neighboring commercial landowners.

  • Defeated CEQA and Water Supply Assessment Law action challenging mixed-use development project.

  • Defeated challenge on behalf of master developers to plan approvals challenging compliance with State Density Bonus laws.

  • Obtained favorable trial court ruling for client defending CEQA challenge by competing business owners.

  • Represented a developer in the development of a 140,000 square foot commercial center, including CEQA litigation.

  • Represented a developer of a water-oriented master-planned community consisting of 11,000 homes, several million square foot employment center, and golf courses, eco-restoration, and other recreational amenities on an approximately 5,000 acre tract in the San Joaquin Delta. Representation included environmental review securing land use entitlement, and defending the project, including earlier proposals, from multiple CEQA compliance lawsuits.

  • Represented developers in the development of a 1,000-home golf course community in the City of Vacaville, including environmental review and securing project entitlements as well as defending the project against a referendum effort and litigation from several opponents.

  • Represented an engineering firm in multimillion dollar claims arising out of construction of a cap on a former landfill site together with a new municipal golf course. Case involved novel issues of dredge spoils reuse and settled following partial summary judgment victory.

  • Represented a county in defense of multi-party CEQA action alleging inadequate water supply analysis.

  • Represented a group of developers with projects in Rancho Cordova against challenge of federal approvals on NEPA, Endangered Species Act, and Clean Water Act grounds.

  • Represented homebuilders with residential projects in the Sunrise Douglas Community Plan Area in the City of Rancho Cordova in connection with challenges brought under NEPA, the federal Endangered Species Act, and the Clean Water Act.

  • Represented the a city in both state and federal court in connection with challenges brought by environmental groups under CEQA, NEPA, and the California and federal Endangered Species Acts.

  • Represented the University of California in the state and federal natural resource permitting for the 10th UC campus to be located on vernal pool grassland habitat in Eastern Merced County.

  • Oak Grove Planned Development. Represented a developer in response to a referendum drive against the project. Successful pre-election challenge at trial court level litigation against the City Clerk of Pleasanton and referendum proponents, temporarily preventing the presentation of the ballot measure to the voters. Reversed on appeal.

  • Fagan Canyon Specific Plan. Represented a national homebuilder in a proposed 2,000 home project subject to referendum by local opponents. Initiated litigation against the referendum petition, and prepared competing a ballot measure to establish legislative approvals for the project.

  • Represented a residential developer client in litigation against municipality for breach of development agreement, Section 1983, and inverse condemnation, arising out of municipality's refusal to approve sewer plans on what were alleged to be trumped up grounds; marshaled evidence of government corruption to achieve substantial settlement largely in the form of reduced permit fees and beneficial entitlement arrangements.

  • Represented an industry association in an action against the Bay Area Air Quality Management District's adoption of new CEQA thresholds, which are widely regarded by expert planners as an obstacle to the goals of encouraging infill and transit oriented development.

  • Defeated a federal Endangered Species Act challenge to 17,000 acre habitat conservation plan on behalf of city.

  • Represented a property owner challenging a NEPA categorical exclusion determination by the Bureau of Reclamation for a fishery enhancement project with adverse impacts on other resources as well as a local agency EIR and state agency categorical exemption for related projects.

  • Represented a company in an action seeking fines for alleged lime spill. Preemption of state fines affirmed on appeal.

  • Represented a developer of a 500 acre residential hillside project in the Town of Moraga, Contra Costa County, including defense of litigation filed by neighboring city over earlier agreement.

  • Represented a homebuilder in CEQA lawsuit brought to challenge entitlements to a large residential specific plan and obtained petition for writ of mandate.

  • Successfully challenged DIR determination regarding the status of a project as a public work subject to prevailing wage law.

  • Successfully settled a case for co-owners of ranch lands in Sonoma and Marin Counties in a quiet title and partition action filed in the Sonoma County Superior Court, involving novel issues of how to value temporal interests in land and joint business enterprises.

  • Secured a victory and resolved a conflict in the Court of Appeal whether opponents of projects found to qualify for an exemption from CEQA must object at a public hearing before the lead agency in order to maintain a legal challenge.

  • Represented a landowner in a successful challenge to set aside a local water agency's attempt to build an anadromous fish access project on the client's property. Also initiated a subsequent challenge to a joint EIS/EIR related to the Santa Ynez River fish management plan and subsequent project proposals.

  • Represented a homeowner in a quiet title and inverse condemnation action against a municipality and neighboring homeowners related to encroachments and use of property by public. Settlements reached with neighbors for encroachments, received judgment against municipality for physical taking, and defeated municipality's public dedication of trail claim.

  • Represented a commercial property owner with respect to impacts on its office building property of proposed adjacent high-rise condo development, and ongoing representation for entitlement of the condo project redesigned per litigation settlement.

  • Represented a commercial property owner with respect to impacts of proposed adjacent entertainment complex project in which surplus property was sold by Culver City to the entertainment complex developer without environmental review.

  • Represented a developer in securing entitlements and environmental review for development of commercial/retail project in the City of Malibu Civic Center.

  • Obtained a $2 million judgment following a two-week jury trial against a city that had obtained an extraction for traffic mitigation fees from the property owners.

  • Represented a mining developer in successfully permitting a new instream mining project on the Russian River, including an innovative adaptive management program to resolve environmental concerns. Successfully defended the project against CEQA challenges, and settled the litigation on favorable terms.

  • Friends of Sierra Madre v. City of Sierra Madre. Represented the city in the trial court, Court of Appeal, and the California Supreme Court, in an action regarding the question of whether CEQA applies to council-sponsored ballot measures.

  • Alameda County Measure D Litigation. Represented homebuilders in opposition to Alameda County's Measure D, which established strict urban growth boundary throughout eastern Alameda County. Prepared counter-measure alternative to Measure D, and prosecuted litigation against Measure D through trial court proceedings.

  • City of San Ramon Measure G Litigation. Represented a homebuilder in litigation challenging the application of "Measure G" (amending the general plan to restrict hillside development, among other things) to limit a housing project proposed in San Ramon.

  • El Dorado County Measure Y Litigation. Represented a coalition of property owners in challenging the provisions of Measure Y, a growth control and traffic limitation measure in El Dorado County.


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