Linda Klein is a land use attorney who focuses on California land use entitlement and litigation.
Linda’s practice has a strong emphasis on the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and she routinely helps clients navigate the complex regulatory hurdles facing development projects in California. Over the course of her career, Linda has worked on a diverse range of projects, including residences, corporate headquarters, large mixed-use master planned communities, industrial facilities, and independent and charter schools. 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.
Linda focuses on entitling projects on urban infill sites in the Bay Area, particularly housing development projects. Housing law is an area of rapid change and Linda is attuned to the latest developments. Her knowledge of housing law helps her clients avoid unnecessary hearings and discretionary approvals, as well as maximize a site’s development potential.
Sustainability & Green Building
Among the thorny issues Linda routinely faces in getting projects approved is how to address GHG emissions under CEQA. Linda has litigated some of the key CEQA cases concerning climate change and 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, Linda 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.
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.
Housing Development Projects
Entitled numerous residential and residential mixed-use development projects, ranging from 25 units to approximately 200 units, including in the cities of Menlo Park, Los Altos, Foster City, South San Francisco, Berkeley, Concord, Pleasant Hill, and Richmond, and in the counties of Contra Costa and San Benito.
Master Planned Communities
Point Molate, Richmond. Represented a developer in securing entitlements for 1,260 new residential units, 250,000 square feet of mixed uses, and rehabilitation of approximately 375,000 square feet of historic structures, to be adaptively reused for a mix of uses, including ensuring that the CEQA document was adequate, addressing difficult historic and tribal cultural resource issues, drafting the zoning and General Plan amendments, and negotiating a Development Agreement and Development and Disposition Agreement with the city.
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, Sunnyvale. Represents two corporations in their expansions of their respective headquarters in Sunnyvale.
- 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.
- 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.
- Charter Schools, Various Jurisdictions. Ongoing representation of developer in securing entitlements for charter schools in various California jurisdictions.
- Independent Schools. Ongoing representation of an independent school in Oakland.
Land Use Due Diligence
Provided developers and investors the land use information they need to decide whether to proceed with acquisition, development, or investment.
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 a 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. Defeated a CEQA challenge to a mitigated negative declaration for an urban infill, mixed-use project, on behalf of the project applicant.
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 requested attorneys’ fees in several attorneys’ fees motions.
- Press Release, Best Lawyers, 8.18.22
- Press Release, CCN, 1.6.20
- Conference, Hilton Garden Inn San Diego Downtown/Bayside, San Diego, 05/05/2022-05/06/2022
- Conference, San Diego, 4.30.22
- Webinar, 4.16.21
- Conference, Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina - Bay Tower, San Diego, California, 4.4.16
- AEP - The Governor Speaks . . . And Then What? Figuring Out The Role Of Executive Orders For Development And In CEQA DocumentsConference, San Francisco, CA, 10.28.15
- Seminar, Holiday Inn Santa Ana Orange County Airport, Santa Ana , California, 4.25.14
- Conference, 3.23.14
- Client Alert, 5.24.23
- Client Alert, 4.18.23
- New Legislation Expands Campaign Contribution Laws toInclude Local Elected Officials - Contributions May Now Require Elected Officials to Recuse Themselves from Voting on ProjectsClient Alert, 10.17.22
- Governor Signs Important New Housing Legislation Allowing Residential Development on Commercial PropertiesClient Alert, 10.3.22
- California Legislature Overrides Local Parking Requirements for Development Projects Within One-Half Mile of Public TransitClient Alert, 9.30.22
- Client Alert, 2.16.22
- Client Alert, 12.16.21
- Client Alert, 10.13.21
- Client Alert, 9.30.21
- Client Alert, 9.20.21
- Client Alert, 5.25.21
- Second Court Weighs in on Water Board Powers – This Time Expanding the Scope of Water Board Wetland Permitting AuthorityClient Alert, 1.5.21
- Article, Daily Journal, 12.11.15
- Article, Environmental Law News, Vol. 24, No. 2, Fall 2015, 12.2.15
- The California Supreme Court Issues Important New Rulings on Analysis of Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Fully Protected Species, and Requirements for California Environmental Quality Act LitigationClient Alert, 11.30.15
- Privileges and Waivers and Records, Oh My!Article, Public Law Journal, Volume 37, Number 2, Spring 2014
- Client Alert, CCN Client Alert, 4.11.13
- Client Alert, CCN Quarterly CEQA Case Law Update, 8.8.12
- Client Alert, CCN Quarterly CEQA Case Law Update, May 2012
- Client Alert, CCN Quarterly CEQA Case Law Update, February 2012
- Client Alert, CCN Quarterly CEQA Case Law Update, November 2011
Awards & Affiliations
Honors & Recognitions
Northern California Rising Star, 2013-2020
Northern California Super Lawyers Top Women Attorneys, 2018-2020
California Association of Environmental Professionals, Member
Urban land Institute, Policy and Practice Committee
Bar & Court Admissions
- State Bar of California
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