Rachel B. Hooper

Rachel B. Hooper joined Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger in 1984 and became a partner in 1988. She served as the firm’s Managing Partner from 1998 to 2015, and became of counsel in 2019. Before joining the firm, Ms. Hooper worked for two years as Law Clerk to the Honorable Laughlin E. Waters, United State District Judge, Central District of California. Ms. Hooper’s practice includes representation of environmental groups and public agencies in matters involving CEQA; NEPA; and state laws governing general plans, zoning, forestry, and climate change. An expert in election law, Ms. Hooper has drafted and defended land use initiatives on behalf of community groups and local governments, and has prepared referenda challenging local legislative approvals.

photo by Liza Heider

Ms. Hooper has extensive litigation experience in federal and state courts, at both the trial court and appellate levels. In a landmark elections law case, she defended Napa County against a landowner’s legal challenge to a 30-year agricultural preservation initiative, ultimately prevailing in the California Supreme Court. DeVita v. County of Napa (1995) 9 Cal.4th 763. Representative CEQA cases include successful challenges to: Lassen County’s approval of a large ski resort on Dyer Mountain; Placer County’s approval of the Martis Valley Community Plan; the City of Stockton’s approval of a 20-year water privatization contract; and the City of San Diego’s approval of the Regents Road Bridge over Rose Canyon. Asserting claims under both CEQA and NEPA, Ms. Hooper succeeded in overturning the Federal Highway Administration’s and Caltrans’ approvals of the Hatton Canyon Freeway in Monterey County. City of Carmel By-the-Sea v. U.S. Dept. of Transportation (9th Cir. 1997) 123 F.3d 1142.

Recent published decisions in which Ms. Hooper served as lead counsel for plaintiffs include: Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice et al. v. City of Moreno Valley et al. (2018) 26 Cal.App.5th 689 (invalidating developer-sponsored initiative that purported to adopt a development agreement for the World Logistics Center, a massive warehouse project in Moreno Valley); City of Long Beach v. City of Los Angeles (2018) 19 Cal.App.5th 465 (rescinding the Port of LA’s approval of a large railyard project known as the Southern California International Gateway project, located adjacent to the low income neighborhood of West Long Beach); and Cleveland National Forest Foundation v. San Diego Assn. of Govs. (2017) 3 Cal.5th 497 (invalidating EIR for SANDAG’s 2050 Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy).

In 2010, Ms. Hooper received the California Lawyer’s Attorney of the Year (CLAY) Award for her success in challenging the Nestle company’s proposal to construct a large water bottling facility on the McCloud River. She also received the Sierra Club Mother Lode Chapter’s 2010 Outstanding Legal Representation Award, recognizing her achievement in negotiating a landmark settlement with the California Attorney General and the City of Stockton that calls for specific policies and programs to address the threat of global warming.

Ms. Hooper has spoken widely on land use planning, CEQA, and initiatives and referenda. For many years, she has served on the editorial board of Matthew Bender’s California Environmental Law Reporter. She has been recognized as a Northern California Super Lawyer each year from 2007 to the present, a designation awarded to only the top 5% of Northern California lawyers, and was named as a “Top Woman Lawyer” by the Daily Journal in 2014. Ms. Hooper is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley School of Law, and received her B.A. from Yale University, graduating summa cum laude.

Ms. Hooper is a member of the Bars of the State of California, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and the U.S. District Courts for the Northern, Eastern and Central Districts of California.