Nicholas J. Clair

Associate | Sacramento

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Tel: 916.329.7433
Fax: 916.329.9050
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Nicholas J. Clair is an Associate in Lozano Smith's Sacramento Office. Mr. Clair focuses on local government and facilities and business issues for public agencies. Mr. Clair advises clients on a variety of transactional matters affecting special districts and local governments, including the Brown Act, California Public Records Act, Proposition 218, elections law, ethics, governance, financing, CEQA, and human resources.


Prior to joining Lozano Smith, Mr. Clair was a Legislative Analyst for the California Special Districts Association. As a Legislative Analyst, Mr. Clair executed the Amicus Curia Advocacy Program by identifying cases of interest, working with local government stakeholders to coordinate amicus efforts, and participating in the brief writing process. He drafted legal documents including an amicus brief challenging a decision issued by the Commission on State Mandates and a comment letter to the California Attorney General regarding Brown Act meeting notice requirements. He also produced legal opinions, detailed bill analyses, support/opposition letters, and drafted statutory language.


Mr. Clair received his Juris Doctor degree with distinction from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. Mr. Clair also received a certificate of concentration in Business Law. Upon graduation from McGeorge, Mr. Clair became a member of the Roger J. Traynor Honor Society. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in International and Comparative Politics from the University of Akron.

California Supreme Court Sides Against School Districts in State Mandates Case

By: Sloan SimmonsNicholas Clair-

February 2020Number 11In California School Boards Association v. State of California (CSBA), the California Supreme Court has allowed the Legislature to avoid appropriating new funding to cover the costs of state mandated programs. Instead, the Legislature is now able to point to existing, unrestricted state funding to satisfy the Constitutional requirement that it identify funding for such programs. In light of the court's holding the Legislature may be incentivized to create new state manda...

U.S. Supreme Court Overrules Precedent And Opens the Federal Court Door to Takings Lawsuits Before Exhaustion of State Law Just Compensation Remedies

By: Nicholas Clair-

August 2019Number 37The Supreme Court of the United States held in Knick v. Township of Scott that plaintiffs claiming a local government action has interfered with their use of property may bring their constitutional "takings lawsuit" under 42 U.S.C. section 1983 directly in federal court, and before exhausting other related state law remedies. The Supreme Court's opinion overruled a 34-year old precedent requiring plaintiffs to first seek just compensation under state law in state court. Th...

Court Restricts Ability to Seek Mandate Reimbursements

By: Nicholas Clair-

October 2018Number 59A California appellate court has ruled that a public agency is not entitled to seek reimbursement from the state for the cost of implementing mandated programs if the agency has existing statutory authority to impose or raise fees, even if the attempt to impose or raise fees is prevented by a successful Proposition 218 majority protest.In Paradise Irrigation District v. Commission on State Mandates, decided on October 1, the Court of Appeals held that the Proposition 218 ...

Public Records Act Does Not Require Creation of Generalized Electronic Data

By: Harold FreimanNicholas Clair-

September 2018Number 48A California appellate court has ruled that public agencies are not required to provide anonymized data in response to California Public Records Act (CPRA) requests when doing so would require the public agency to create new data.BackgroundThe CPRA requires public entities to disclose public records unless there is a specific legal exemption. The courts have previously affirmed that the CPRA does not require public agencies to create new records to satisfy a CPRA reques...

Legislative Update: Bill Eases Fee Collection for Storm Water Systems

By: David WolfeNicholas Clair-

November 2017 Number 74 A new law will make it easier for local governments to raise the revenue necessary to maintain and upgrade storm water management systems. Senate Bill (SB) 231 becomes effective on January 1, 2018. Proposition 218 Proposition 218 limits local governments' ability to impose new or increased fees or charges. The California Constitution defines a "fee" or "charge" as "any levy other than an ad valorem tax, a special tax, or an assessment, imposed by an agency up...

Public Agencies No Longer Required to Contract with DIR Registered Contractors for Small Projects

By: Anne CollinsNicholas Clair-

July 2017 Number 38 Senate Bill (SB) 96, passed this June as part of the California state budget, contains provisions designed to encourage more contractors to participate on small public works projects. Public works projects under $25,000 and maintenance projects under $15,000 are now exempt from the requirements of the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) registration program. The new law also permits contractors to register for up to three years in advance and imposes new penalt...