Public Trust

SMW has an extensive public trust practice. The public trust doctrine protects California’s water and wildlife resources. We assist local government and community groups in investigating and resolving trust title issues, use and development of trust lands, tidelands leases, and administration of trust revenues. The firm represents public agency trust grantees in negotiations with developers and the California State Lands Commission on complex trust land development projects, and has worked on some of the largest trust land exchanges in the state. The firm has also drafted numerous state statutes authorizing trust grants and land exchanges. Examples of the firm’s trust work include:

1868 Map of Hunters Point,
San Francisco
  • Military Base Reuse: The firm represents cities and other trustee agencies in designing, negotiating, obtaining authorizing legislation, and drafting inter-governmental agreements for major trust land exchanges proposed or completed on former military bases, including Hunters Point Naval Shipyard and Naval Station Treasure Island in San Francisco, the Oakland Army Base, and Naval Air Station Alameda.
  • San Francisco Waterfront: The firm advises the City, the Port of San Francisco and other local agencies on public trust and title issues affecting major waterfront projects, such as Pacific Bell Ballpark, Rincon Point-South Beach Redevelopment Project, the 315-acre Mission Bay project, restoration and revitalization of the historic finger piers, and redevelopment of Seawall Lot 337 and the Pier 70 neighborhood.
  • Mono Lake: As a friend of the court, the firm successfully argued that water diversions from Mono Lake must take into account public trust considerations, leading to the landmark decision in National Audubon Society v. Superior Court, 33 Cal.3d 419 (1983).