Matthew D. Zinn

Matthew D. Zinn is a partner with the firm. He joined Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP in 2001 after serving as a law clerk to Chief Judge John M. Walker, Jr. of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. His practice areas include air quality, climate change, land use, defense of regulation against constitutional and administrative law challenges, eminent domain, CEQA and NEPA, and development and enforcement of conservation easements and other servitudes.

photo by Liza Heider

Mr. Zinn has participated in a number of the firm’s significant land use and environmental cases:

• In Colony Cove Properties LLC v. City of Carson, Mr. Zinn succeeded in the Ninth Circuit in overturning a jury verdict against the City in a regulatory takings challenge to a mobile home rent control decision.

• In California Chamber of Commerce v. State Air Resources Board, Mr. Zinn successfully represented environmental groups as intervenors in defense of the state’s auction of greenhouse gas emission allowances under AB 32. The court upheld the auction against a claim that it imposed a tax under Proposition 13.

• In 2013, Mr. Zinn received a California Lawyer Attorney of the Year (CLAY) award for his work in American Coatings Ass’n v. South Coast Air Quality Management District, in which he successfully defended the District’s adoption of a rule regulating volatile organic compounds in paints. The case resulted in a landmark opinion from the California Supreme Court upholding the power of the District and other air districts to adopt “technology-forcing” regulations designed to encourage improvements in emission control technologies.

• In Building Industry Ass’n of Central California v. County of Stanislaus, Mr. Zinn obtained an opinion from the California Court of Appeal upholding against constitutional and statutory challenges the authority of local governments to require dedication of conservation easements to mitigate the loss of farmland and other natural resources caused by new development.

• Mr. Zinn was a member of the firm’s winning litigation team in Guggenheim v. City of Goleta, in which the Ninth Circuit, en banc, rejected a regulatory takings claim brought against a mobilehome rent control ordinance by a mobilehome park owner.

• He was a member of the firm’s winning team in San Remo Hotel v. City & County of San Francisco, in which the United States Supreme Court unanimously held that unsuccessful state-court takings claimants are not entitled to relitigate their claims in federal court.

• In Western States Petroleum Ass’n v. South Coast Air Quality Management District, Mr. Zinn successfully defended at the trial and appellate levels regulation of air pollutant emissions from oil refineries.

• Mr. Zinn has defended local ordinances regulating billboards and other signs against constitutional challenges brought by billboard developers.

• Mr. Zinn has also authored amicus curiae briefs in the United States Supreme Court and numerous other appellate courts in significant environmental and constitutional cases, such as Massachusetts v. EPA; West Virginia v. EPA; Rocky Mtn. Farmers Union v. Goldstein; and Knick v. Township of Scott, for which he received the International Municipal Lawyers Association’s 2019 Amicus Service Award.

Mr. Zinn has written numerous articles on topics in environmental and land use law, including Adapting to Climate Change: Environmental Law in a Warmer World, 34 Ecol. L.Q. 61 (2007); Policing Environmental Regulatory Enforcement: Cooperation, Capture, and Citizen Suits, 21 Stan. Envtl. L.J. 81 (2002); and Ultra Vires Takings, 97 Mich. L. Rev. 245 (1998). He received his J.D. magna cum laude from the University of Michigan in 1999; an M.S. in environmental policy from the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment, also in 1999; and a B.A. from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1994.

Mr. Zinn is a member of the State Bar of California; the U.S. District Courts for the Northern, Central, and Eastern Districts of California; the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Ninth, D.C., and Federal Circuits; and the U.S. Supreme Court. In 2011 and 2012, Mr. Zinn was listed as a Northern California Super Lawyers “Rising Star.” Mr. Zinn is a member of the board of directors of the Bay Area Ridge Trail Council.