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Nossaman LLP

Environment and Land Use

Coastal Development

Land development and project permitting in California's coastal zone involves a daunting series of legal, regulatory, and political challenges.  Expertise and multi-project experience in assessing these challenges is critical to ensuring an applicant receives a Coastal Development Permit, LCP Amendment, or other administrative approval from the Coastal Commission and can move forward.  Nossaman has developed one of the most comprehensive coastal zone legal practices in California, and enjoys an unmatched reputation for successfully navigating this approval process for our clients' coastal zone projects.

Nossaman has advised and represented both private and public agency clients on projects and issues before the California Coastal Commission since the passage of the Coastal Zone Initiative (Proposition 20) in 1972 and the California Coastal Act in 1976.  Our Coastal Development team members—including former California Coastal Commission Chair Bonnie Neely, John Erskine, John Flynn, and Greg Sanders—have had primary legal responsibility for identifying and implementing both legal and political strategies for obtaining approval of Local Coastal Plan and Coastal Land Use Plan Amendments, Coastal Development Permits, and Coastal Zone Management Certifications, as well as representing coastal clients in enforcement actions.  Nossaman's wealth of experience extends to trial and appellate courts in both the state and federal systems, where we have successfully defended challenges to Commission approvals, and challenged overreaching project conditions.

The Firm's Coastal Development practice is strengthened by the ties we maintain with Commissioners and key contacts in federal, state and local government.  Many of our lawyers are former government attorneys, elected officials, and state agency staff.  We understand all sides of the Coastal Commission regulatory and development processes, and put our experience to work in successfully advising our clients and collaborating with regulators to advance our clients' causes. 

Nossaman's Coastal Development team can assist in a multitude of areas, including:

  • Strategic Project Evaluation – identifying the road map to approval
  • Permitting – project description, CEQA clearance/documentation, CDP applications, exemptions, LCP/LUP amendments, certifications, de minimis waivers
  • State Lands Commission/Tidelands – determining the appropriate use of property subject to the public trust, completing land exchanges, identifying land use for trust fund monies, setting historic and last natural condition boundary lines
  • Access – Positive working relationships with Coastal Commissioner, and Coastal Commission Staff and Counsel
  • Litigation and Appeals – defending Commission approvals, and challenging wrongful project denials, or excessive project conditions
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