News & Information


Recent Accomplishments

  • SMW Supreme Court Victory: Just before Christmas, the California Supreme Court issued its decision in Orange Citizens for Parks and Recreation v. Superior Court, a case the firm has been litigating since 2011. The unanimous decision protects the integrity of General Plans in California and upholds the rights of voters to use the referendum power to challenge local land use decisions. Read the decision here.  
  • San Onofre State Beach Saved: Following an unbroken string of court and administrative victories, a coalition of 12 major environmental groups represented by SMW reached an historic settlement agreement to end the decade-long battle to save SOSB, Trestles beach, and other protected open space from a six-lane toll road. Read more here.   
  • SMW Ranked Nationally Among "Best Law Firms": U.S. News and Best Lawyers® have released their 2017 “Best Law Firms” rankings, and again Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP has earned a “Tier 1” ranking among law firms in the San Francisco metropolitan area in four categories, and three national awards, including a prestigious “Tier 1” ranking among all firms nationally in Land Use & Zoning Law. View all of the rankings here.  
  • SMW Honored as Women-Owned Business: SMW has again been named by the San Francisco Business Times to its “Bay Area’s Largest 100 Women-Owned Businesses” for 2016, one of only 5 law firms to make the rankings. The firm’s ten woman owners – Fran Layton, Rachel Hooper, Ellen Garber, Tamara Galanter, Ellison Folk, Osa Wolff, Catherine Engberg, Deborah Miller, Winter King, and Amy Bricker – comprise a majority of SMW’s partners and, collectively, hold a majority ownership stake in the firm.  
  • California Adopts Rules to Ease Solar Grid Access: The California Public Utilities Commission recently adopted significant new updates to the rules that govern how renewable energy generators connect to the distribution grid in the state. SMW led the charge for many of the innovations on behalf of its client the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. (IREC). For more information on these new innovations see here and here.   
  • Historic Diablo Canyon Agreement : Friends of the Earth, represented by SMW, announced an historic settlement agreement with PG&E, NRDC, and other labor and environmental organizations to close the last nuclear power plant in California by 2025 and replace it with zero-carbon energy. Read more here and here.  
  • Polluting New Railyard Halted : The City of Long Beach, represented by SMW, joined forces with the California Attorney General and six other plaintiffs to stop a major new railyard proposed immediately adjacent to the schools and residences of the west Long Beach neighborhood. The court’s 200-page opinion found the analysis of project’s air quality, climate, noise, traffic and cumulative impacts was inadequate.  
  • Land Trust Appointments: Tamara Galanter was recently selected to chair the Conservation Law Forum for the California Council of Land Trusts. Tamara also will be serving a four year term on the Land Trust Alliance Conservation Defense Advisory Council.  
  • Victory in San Diego County: The Cleveland National Forest Foundation, a long-time SMW client, has succeeded in stopping the proposed “Lilac Hills Ranch,” a leapfrog project that would have added 1,746 homes plus commercial development to a semi-rural area north of Escondido. The developer withdrew its project application after SMW commented on the inadequacies of the County’s analysis of the sprawl project’s greenhouse gas impacts.    -Read more-
  • Groundbreaking for Solar Farm: SMW represented Marin Clean Energy (MCE) in leasing a brownfield owned by Chevron in the City of Richmond for a 10.5 megawatt solar farm. MCE, California’s first Community Choice Aggregation electric power supplier, broke ground on the facility on December 16. The solar farm is expected to generate enough carbon free electricity for 3,000 homes in the City of Richmond. Read more here.   
More SMW accomplishments  

Recent Presentations & Publications

  • Forward-Thinking Series on Interconnection: In January, SMW attorneys Cathy Malina and Erica McConnell authored the fourth in a series of blogs on renewable energy interconnection on behalf of our client, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, published in Greentech Media. In the blog, Malina and McConnell look at why interconnection information sharing is so crucial for making sensible investments in distributed resources.   
  • Forward-Thinking Series on Interconnection: Over the past few months, SMW attorneys have authored blogs on renewable energy interconnection on behalf of our client, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council. In the third blog published in Greentech Media, Laura Beaton and Erica McConnell discuss how enforcement mechanisms can make interconnection deadlines matter for utilities and applicants.  
  • Public Agency Update (Winter 2016): Agencies frequently require developers to mitigate for the loss of farmland and open space through conservation easement purchases. But conservation easements can easily be ignored if agencies do not require adequate protections up front. SMW attorney Tamara Galanter offers tips to ensure conservation easements will effectively compensate for land lost.    -Read more-
  • Public Agency Update (Winter 2016): As part of an effort to bolster California’s housing stock, new state law imposes severe limits on local agency regulation of accessory dwelling units. SMW attorney Sara Clark reviews the new legislation to see where local jurisdictions may retain some control.    -Read more-
  • Forward-Thinking Series on Interconnection: Greentech Media has published a second blog in a series by SMW, written on behalf of the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, addressing renewable energy interconnection. This time around, SMW attorney Erica McConnell talks about the importance of clear timelines in keeping the interconnection process moving forward. Read more here.  
  • 2016 CLE International 12th Annual CEQA Conference: Robert “Perl” Perlmutter is scheduled to co-present the annual CEQA Case Law and Legislative Update on December 12, 2016.  
  • Bar Association of San Francisco: On November 3, 2016, Catherine Engberg spoke on a panel entitled “The nuts & bolts of CEQA litigation: challenging and defending an EIR, Policy Analysis: is CEQA achieving its social and environmental goals?”  
  • Napa County’s Winery Definition Ordinance Seminar: On November 2, 2016, Robert “Perl” Perlmutter spoke on a panel regarding “Environmental Review and Conditions of Approval” at an all-day seminar on Napa County’s Winery Definition Ordinance and Implications for Other Winery Markets.  
  • Livable Communities Advisory Team, AARP, Sacramento, CA: On November 1, 2016, Catherine Engberg presented on the topic of “CEQA Pros and Cons” and engaged in a discussion of challenges (unrelated to CEQA) that restrict affordable housing production.   
  • 2016 Environmental Law Conference at Yosemite: On October 26, 2016, Robert “Perl” Perlmutter spoke at the State of California Environmental Law Section’s annual conference at Yosemite, on a panel entitled: CEQA and the People’s Voice: Developer-sponsored Ballot Measures. Mr. Perlmutter served on a similar panel at the 89th Annual Meeting of the State Bar of California earlier in October  
More SMW presentations and publications