California Coastal Commission

Latham & Watkins helps property developers address the full range of legal issues that arise in connection with complex and high-stakes project proposals located in California’s coastal zone.

Navigating an Intricate Permitting Process

Latham land use lawyers create comprehensive legal strategies for clients seeking to develop projects along California’s 1,100 miles of shoreline. Drawing on decades of experience, the firm works closely with California Coastal Commission staff through every step of the agency’s approval process — from crafting legally sound applications to developing legal strategies and defensible administrative records in order to obtain project permits and prevail in any post-approval litigation. Latham lawyers also have substantial experience defending against and negotiating Commission enforcement actions.

Latham lawyers handle a diverse portfolio of infrastructure, commercial, and residential projects, including:

  • Desalination and wastewater treatment plants
  • Educational institutions

  • Hotels and resorts

  • Individual, ocean-front residential projects

  • Large-scale residential projects

  • Port and industrial projects

  • Power plants

Leveraging Deep Experience

Latham lawyers have handled Coastal Commission matters since the agency’s inception in 1972. Over the intervening decades, the Coastal Commission has evolved into a distinctly influential regulatory body with some of the broadest land use authority in the state. Latham leverages detailed knowledge of the Coastal Commission’s unique procedural and disclosure requirements, as well as effective working relationships with the commissioners and their staff to advance our clients’ projects.

Latham recognizes that project success often requires collaborating with a diverse team that includes lobbyists, activists, community organizations, and environmental groups.

Delivering Clear Results

Latham lawyers have successfully advised an impressive spectrum of property owners, developers, energy companies, educational institutions, and government agencies on milestone projects up and down the California coast.   

Significant representative matters include:
  • Successfully advised a leading seawater desalination developer in connection with modifying and updating permits for a precedent-setting desalination plant in San Diego County. The project required extensive collaboration among the California Coastal Commission and several local agencies.
  • Obtained unanimous approvals from the Coastal Commission for a test slant well project in Northern California on behalf of a publicly traded water company. Latham subsequently defeated multiple lawsuits challenging the Coastal Commission’s approval of the test well, as well as additional claims related to minor permit amendments that Latham obtained from the Commission during test well operations.
  • Secured a Coastal Development Permit for a natural gas-fired electrical generation facility, on behalf of a Southern California-based electricity supply company. Latham subsequently defeated the local city’s attempt to block the development of the plant.
  • Successfully represented a private research university based in Southern California in connection with a range of Coastal Commission matters, including major infrastructure improvement projects, various permitting issues, and related litigation.
  • Successfully represented a top California real estate developer in connection with a mixed-use project involving retail, office, and residential facilities in Orange County, as well as a five-star luxury hotel located in Newport Beach.
  • Obtained numerous permits and clearances and defended against enforcement proceedings involving multiple high-value residential properties located on the coast in Malibu and other jurisdictions, on behalf of private residents.
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