Clark Morrison has 30 years of experience in the permitting and development of large and complex development projects. His clients include residential and commercial developers, renewable energy developers, public agencies (universities, water districts, airports, cities, and counties), mining companies, and wineries and other agricultural concerns. Clark's areas of experience include all State and Federal laws affecting the development of real property. He is recognized nationally for his concentration in federal endangered species, wetlands, water law, public lands, and other natural resource laws, and works on the largest habitat conservation planning efforts in the western United States.
Clark is co-author of Natural Resource Regulation in California, the State’s leading treatise on natural resource law and agency permitting. Clark speaks and writes regularly on land use and natural resource matters, and has served as adjunct lecturer on these subjects at the U.C. Berkeley School of Law. In 2017, he was named “Natural Resource Lawyer of the Year (San Francisco)” by the nationally-respected publication, Best Lawyers, and he is regularly recognized by that publication for his work in the areas of land use, natural resources and real estate law.
Land Use and Development
Clark's statewide land use practice is focused on the entitlement, defense, and development of mixed-use master-planned communities. He advises many of the largest developments in California, including several projects with proposed build-outs of between 10,000 and 25,000 dwelling units. He was a pioneer in the evolution of California's laws requiring evaluation of water supply resources in connection with new development. Clark is skilled in all aspects of land development, from the preparation of specific plans and environmental impact reports and the negotiation of development agreements, to the defense and settlement of complicated multi-party CEQA lawsuits, and ultimately to the implementation of fully permitted projects through the finance, mapping, and construction processes.
Wetlands and Endangered Species
Clark is one of the nation's leading attorneys in wetlands and endangered species regulation. He advises a broad spectrum of clients in this area, including land developers; alternative energy companies; mining and agricultural interests; and public agencies such as water districts, cities, and counties; and mining and agricultural interests. Clark helps his clients negotiate the approval processes of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the California Department of Fish and Game, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and California's Regional Water Quality Control Boards. His experience includes permitting and litigation under Sections 401 and 404 of the Clean Water Act, Sections 7 and 10 of the Endangered Species Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and Sections 2081 and 1602 of the California Fish and Game Code. He has participated in the development of numerous large-scale habitat conservation plans, natural community conservation plans, and mitigation banks. He is presently handling some of California's most complex wetlands and endangered species matters. As a result of this work, Clark is a recognized authority on the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), having managed the preparation of numerous environmental impact statements and other NEPA documents.
Clark is the firm's primary resource on water rights and related issues. He regularly advises water districts, cities, counties, other public agencies, developers, industrial concerns, and agricultural interests in all aspects of water law. His matters include water rights permitting, water transfers, conjunctive use arrangements, wastewater treatment and reuse, urban water management planning, water supply/demand evaluations under SB 610 and SB 221, infrastructure development and finance, and all other matters associated with the development, use, management, and transfer of water resources. He is also experienced in handling the myriad state and federal regulatory structures affecting the use of water, including the state and federal Endangered Species Acts, Magnussen-Stevens, the Clean Water Act, the Porter-Cologne Act, and other laws.
Defeated a challenge to plan approvals challenging compliance with State Density Bonus laws on behalf of master developers.
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.
- Press Release, Best Lawyers, 8.18.22
- Press Release, Super Lawyers, 8.1.22
- Press Release, Best Lawyers®, 8.19.21
- Press Release, Super Lawyers, 7.7.21
- Press Release, Best Lawyers®, 8.21.20
- Press Release, Best Lawyers®, 8.21.20
- Press Release, Super Lawyers, 7.1.20
- Scott Birkey and Clark Morrison Interview In GlobeSt. Article - Why Waters Regs Matter To DevelopersNews, GlobeSt.com, 2.28.20
- Twenty-Nine Cox, Castle & Nicholson Attorneys Have Been Selected for the 2020 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America®.Press Release,
The Best Lawyers in America®, 8.16.19
- Fourteen Cox, Castle & Nicholson Attorneys Recognized As 2019 Northern California Super Lawyers & Rising StarsPress Release, Super Lawyers, 7.15.19
- News, GlobeSt.com, 1.4.19
- News, American Infrastructure Magazine, 10.10.18
- Twenty-Six Cox, Castle & Nicholson Attorneys Have Been Selected for the 2019 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America®.Press Release,
The Best Lawyers in America®, 8.15.18
- Fifteen Cox, Castle & Nicholson Attorneys Recognized As 2018 Northern California Super Lawyers & Rising StarsPress Release, Northern California Super Lawyers, 7.13.18
- Press Release, Legal 500, 6.4.18
- Twenty-Three Cox, Castle & Nicholson Attorneys Have Been Selected for the 2018 edition of The Best Lawyers in America®.Press Release, The Best Lawyers in America®, 8.15.17
- Ten Cox, Castle & Nicholson Attorneys Recognized As 2017 Northern California Super Lawyers & Rising StarsPress Release, Northern California Super Lawyers, 7.7.17
- Eleven Cox, Castle & Nicholson Attorneys Recognized As 2017 Northern California Super Lawyers & Rising StarsPress Release, 7.7.17
- Scott Birkey and Clark Morrison Quoted in Law360 - Calif. Bracing For Potential EPA, Clean Water Act ChangesNews, Law360, 1.12.17
- Twenty-Two Cox, Castle & Nicholson Attorneys Have Been Selected for the 2017 edition of The Best Lawyers in America®.Press Release, 9.12.16
- Clark Morrison was named the 2017 Natural Resources Law “Lawyer of the Year” in San Francisco by The Best Lawyers in America®.Press Release, The Best Lawyers in America®, 9.12.16
- Twenty-One Cox, Castle & Nicholson Attorneys Have Been Selected for the 2017 edition of The Best Lawyers in America®.Press Release, The Best Lawyers in America®, 9.12.16
- Eleven Cox, Castle & Nicholson Attorneys Recognized As 2016 Northern California Super Lawyers & Rising StarsPress Release, Northern California Super Lawyers, 7.8.16
- Press Release, Best Lawyers in America, 8.17.15
- News, Law360, 7.16.15
- News, Super Lawyers, 7.7.15
- News, Daily Journal, 7.6.15
- News, Law360, 5.11.15
- News, Law 360, 10.27.14
- Press Release, 7.18.14
- Press Release, 7.17.14
- Press Release, Super Lawyers, 7.1.13
- Twenty-three Cox Castle & Nicholson LLP Attorneys Are Selected To Be Published In The 2012 Super Lawyers Business EditionPress Release, 9.4.12
- News, Daily Journal, 8.15.12
- Eight Cox, Castle & Nicholson LLP Attorneys Are Recognized As 2012 Northern California Super LawyersPress Release, Super Lawyers, 7.6.12
- Press Release, The Recorder, 4.11.12
- News, Daily Journal, 4.11.12
- Fourteen Lawyers from Cox, Castle & Nicholson, LLP are Selected to be Included in The Best Lawyers in America 2012.Press Release, Best Lawyers in America, 11.8.11
- Twenty-three Cox Castle & Nicholson LLP Attorneys Are Selected To Be Published In The 2011 Super Lawyers Business EditionPress Release, 9.1.11
- News, Daily Journal, 6.3.11
- News, Daily Journal, 4.27.11
- Seven Cox, Castle & Nicholson LLP Attorneys Are Recognized As 2010 Northern California Super LawyersPress Release, Super Lawyers, 8.1.10
- Eighteen Cox, Castle & Nicholson LLP Attorneys Are Recognized As 2010 Super Lawyers Corporate CounselPress Release, Super Lawyers, 5.1.10
- Twelve Cox, Castle & Nicholson LLP Attorneys Are Recognized By The The Best Lawyers In America® 2010 EditionPress Release, Best Lawyers in America, 8.4.09
- Press Release, Northern California Super Lawyers, 7.24.09
- News, The Recorder, 5.20.09
- News, Law360.com, 5.8.09
- Twelve Cox, Castle & Nicholson LLP Attorneys Are Recognized By The Best Lawyers In America® 2009 EditionPress Release, Best Lawyers of America, 9.30.08
- Solano County Furthest Behind on 'Smart Growth'News, 06.15.07
- Cox, Castle at Home in SF.News, 02.28.27
- Citiess, Builders face water fightNews, 02.23.07
- Webinar, Online, 12.7.22
- Webinar, 5/17/2022 - 5/19/2022
- Webinar, 04/19/2021-04/21/2021
- Webinar, 11.20.20
- Webinar, 9.23.20
- Webinar, 4.6.20
- Doubletree by Hilton Hotel, Newark, CA, 02/04/20--206/20
- Conference, Silver Legacy, Reno, NV, 1.23.20
- Conference, Hyatt Regency Minneapolis, Minneapolis, MN, 5/06/19-5/10/19
- Bay Planning Coalition's Expert Briefing on the New Waters of the State Wetland Definition and Discharge PolicySeminar, Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean LLP, Oakland, CA, 4.25.19
- Conference, Offices of Winston & Strawn, San Francisco, California, 10.25.18
- Conference, Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean LLP, Oakland, SF, 10.25.18
- Sponsorship, BASF Conference Center, San Francisco, CA, 09/25/2017-09/26/2017
- Conference, Hotel Nikko, San Francisco, CA, 6.13.16
- County Counsels' Association Land Use Spring Conference5.6.16
- Conference, Hotel Nikko, San Francisco, California, 3.3.16
- Seminar, Ulatis Community Center, Vacaville, California, 11.18.15
- Conference, Hotel Nikko, San Francisco, California, 9.24.15
- Conference, DoubleTree Suites, Santa Monica, California, 1.20.15
- CLEANR's Workshop Roundtable Series: Financing Habitat Conservation In Infrastructure/Development PlanningSeminar, Sacramento, California, 12.11.14
- Sponsorship, La Quinta Resort, La Quinta, California, 10.13.14
- Conference, Hotel Nikko, San Francisco, California, 6.19.14
- Conference, Hyatt Regency Hotel, 1.9.14
- Seminar, La Jolla, California, 9.29.10
- Conference, Grand Hyatt, San Francisco, California, 9.23.10
- Conference, San Francisco, California, 9.21.09
- Keeping Real Estate Investment from Turning to Dust: The Interaction of Water Supply Planning and Real Property DevelopmentConference, Lake Tahoe, California, 5.15.09
- Conference, Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa, Monterey, California, 4.17.09
- Conference, San Francisco, California, 3.19.09
- Conference, 2.26.09
- Conference, Radisson, Sacramento, California, 12.11.08
- Conference, Los Angeles, California, 8.14.08
- Federal and State Wetlands Regulations - the Emerging Issues and Trends8.23.07
- Where CEQA, CESA and ESA Meet -A Closer look at the Notomas Basin Case8.20.07
- Current Water Law and Regulations Issues Affection California's Water Picture and ..What Changes Will Global Warming Bring?6.11.07
- Client Alert, 7.13.22
- What’s All the Buzz About? Bees and Other Terrestrial Invertebrates Now Eligible for California Endangered Species Act ListingClient Alert, 6.3.22
- Client Alert, 2.22.22
- New WOTUS Definition Coming Soon: Army Corps of Engineers and EPA Announce Proposed Rule Defining Waters of the United States under the Clean Water ActClient Alert, 11.24.21
- Client Alert, 11.9.21
- Client Alert, 1.19.21
- Second Court Weighs in on Water Board Powers – This Time Expanding the Scope of Water Board Wetland Permitting AuthorityClient Alert, 1.5.21
- Client Alert, 12.21.20
- Client Alert, 9.23.20
- Client Alert, 8.19.20
- Article, California Land Use Law & Policy Report, 7.8.20
- Client Alert, 5.15.20
- Client Alert, 4.23.20
- Client Alert, 4.20.20
- What Environmental and Real Estate Practitioners Need to Know About the Navigable Waters Protection RuleArticle, California Environmental Law Reporter, 4.1.20
- Article, Bloomberg Law, 2.27.20
- Client Alert, 1.23.20
- Client Alert, 8.16.19
- Article, Cox, Castle & Nicholson, 8.22.18
- Article, 2.12.18
- Article, HELJ, 11.7.17
- Article, Daily Journal, 9.1.17
- Article, North American Windpower, May 2013
- The Army Corps of Engineers Issues New Procedures for Determining Wetland Fill Permit Mitigation RatiosClient Alert, CCN Client Alert, 3.1.12
- EPA and Army Corps of Engineers Issue Proposed Guidance That Would Expand Their Jurisdiction Under the Clean Water ActClient Alert, CCN Client Alert, 5.6.11
- Client Alert, CCN Client Alert, 11.29.10
- Client Alert, CCN Client Alert, 8.27.10
- Client Alert, CCN Client Alert, 6.3.10
- Client Alert, CCN Client Alert, 6.2.10
- State and Federal Wildlife Agencies Struggle over California's Listing of California Tiger SalamanderClient Alert, CCN Client Alert, 5.6.10
- Client Alert, CCN Client Alert, 11.5.09
- Client Alert, CCN Client Alert, 10.14.09
- Client Alert, CCN Client Alert, 10.13.09
- Client Alert, CCN Client Alert, 9.8.09
- Environmental Review Required for Affordable Housing Project Stimulus Funds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009Client Alert, CCN Client Alert, 5.29.09
- Client Alert, CCN Client Alert, 5.14.09
- Client Alert, CCN Client Alert, 5.4.09
- Client Alert, CCN Client Alert, 4.30.09
- Client Alert, CCN Client Alert, 3.26.09
- Client Alert, CCN Client Alert, 2.2.09
- Client Alert, CCN Client Alert, 12.12.08
- Client Alert, CCN Client Alert, 12.4.08
- California Supreme Court Upholds Bay-Delta Environmental Impact Report, Including Alternatives Analysis And Programmatic Level Of Impact ReviewClient Alert, CCN Client Alert, 6.10.08
- Floating A New Boat on the Jurisdictional Waters - Army Corps of Engineers and EPA Issue Rapanos GudianceArticle, Aug-Sept 2007
- EPA and Army Corps of Engineers Issue Rapanos GuidanceClient Alert, 06.06.07
- Water Supplies for New Housing Development: The California Supreme Court Wades In.Article, 02.26.07
- California Supreme Court Clarifies CEQA Requirements for Analysis of Water Supplies (PDF)Client Alert, 02.05.07
Awards & Affiliations
Honors & Recognitions
Best Lawyers, in Land Use & Zoning Law, Litigation – Land Use & Zoning, Natural Resources Law and Real Estate Law, 2007-2023
Northern California Super Lawyers, 2004-2023
Recommended Attorney, Real Estate – Land Use/Zoning, Legal 500 USA, 2018
Best Lawyers, Natural Resources Lawyer of the Year in San Francisco, 2017
Bay Area Council, Board of Directors
California Building Industry Association, Governmental Affairs Committee
The Nature Conservancy, California Leadership Council
California Wind Energy Association
California Association of Land Trusts
California Construction and Industrial Materials Association (CalCIMA)
Association of California Water Agencies
Co-Author, California Land Use treatise (CEB 2013)
Advisory Board, California Land Use Law and Policy Reporter
Adjunct Lecturer, UC Berkeley School of Law
Bar & Court Admissions
- State Bar of California
J.D., University of California, Berkeley School of Law, 1987
B.A., University of California, Berkeley, 1984