General Plan & Zoning Law

SMW helps local governments in drafting general plans, specific plans, zoning ordinances and state legislation concerning land use planning. The firm also assists community groups seeking to amend or challenge the adoption of general plans or other local planning laws. The firm has successfully brought or defended numerous legal challenges to general plan adoptions and amendments, zoning changes, and other land use approvals. Examples of the firm’s planning and zoning work include:

photo courtesy of Roger Hooper
Loma Alta Peak, Marin County
  • Marin Countywide Plan: SMW advised the County in connection with a complete update of its nationally recognized general plan, which concentrates and limits development, protects natural resources and has innovative policies addressing global warming.
  • Martis Valley (Placer County): After successfully challenging the Martis Valley Community Plan in court, the firm, on behalf of a coalition of environmental groups, negotiated an innovative settlement that saves most of the near-pristine valley between Truckee and Lake Tahoe and finances open space acquisition in the valley through transfer fees on home sales in limited development areas.
  • City of Livermore: The firm negotiated a complex settlement agreement that launched a cooperative planning process for the valley, and assisted in developing an innovative conservation mechanism to curb sprawl and permanently protect the community's rural heritage as part of the award-winning South Livermore Valley Specific Plan.
  • Merced County: The firm represented the County in connection with amendment of its general plan and other land use and regulatory issues involving the new UC Merced campus and the County’s development of an associated University Community.