Locally elected governing bodies and their appointed officials and employees need a partner that understands and can effectively navigate the complex and frequently changing laws. We remain abreast of the laws affecting municipalities and special districts, and support the education community on governance issues so that our clients can ultimately stay focused on what they do best - enhancing the communities they serve.

Areas of Practice

To best meet the needs and ensure the ongoing success of its clients, Lozano Smith's Local Government and Municipal Law Practice Group provides advice in all areas of law affecting cities, counties and special districts, and provides specialized services to all of the firm's public agency clients in the following areas:

Americans with Disabilities Act
Open Meeting Laws/Brown Act
Records Request/Public Records Act
Conflicts of Interest and Ethics
Elections, Redistricting and Voting Rights Act
Public Agency Formation, Organization and Reorganization
Intergovernmental Relations
Public Financing/Tax Exempt Bonds
Fees, Taxes & Assessments
Construction Advice and Litigation
Land Use
Public Safety
Police and Fire
Code Enforcement

Real World Applications

As a law firm dedicated to the practice of public agency law, we have developed expertise representing various cities, counties and special districts in California. The firm's Local Government Practice Group is comprised of attorneys who have served in county counsel, city attorney and general counsel capacities for many years, gathering a wealth of knowledge and understanding of client needs. Our attorneys currently serve as City Attorneys for the Cities of Lemoore, Reedley, Sanger, Mission Viejo, Firebaugh, Parlier, Coalinga, Fowler and Clovis, and as general counsel for many kinds of special districts.

The California Court of Appeal Has Spoken, Not Just Anyone Can Be Elected County Sheriff—So Says County Clerk

By:William Curley III, Ryan Harrison, Sr. -

April 2019Number 20In 2017, basketball Hall-of-Famer Shaquille O'Neil was sworn in as a deputy sheriff of Henry County, Georgia. The momentous occasion concluded with a moment levity at the end of the swearing-in ceremony when Mr. O'Neil announced his candidacy for County Sheriff in 2020. His wit was fueled by the tacit understanding that county sheriff is a position requiring the qualification of sufficient prior law enforcement experience. World-class basketball skills, although highly impo...

PERB Decision Provides Guidance Addressing “Public Hearing” Requirement

By:Jenell Van Bindsbergen, Meera Bhatt -

March 2019Number 17 In a recent decision, the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) addressed the public hearing requirement an agency must satisfy before implementing its last, best, and final offer (LBFO), after completing applicable impasse procedures. In City of Yuba City (2018) PERB Dec. No. 2603-M, PERB upheld an administrative law judge decision dismissing an unfair practice charge brought against the City of Yuba City (City) by Public Employees Union Local 1 (Local 1) alleging viol...

Brown Act’s “Committee Exception” Does Not Apply To Special Meetings

By:William Curley III, Matthew Lear -

March 2019Number 18A California appellate court has focused on the distinction between a regular meeting and a special meeting of the local legislative body when considering an exception to public comment under the Ralph M. Brown Act (Brown Act). In Preven v. City of Los Angeles (Preven), the Second District Court of Appeal found that the City of Los Angeles had improperly relied on the Brown Act's "committee exception" to stop public comment during a special meeting regarding a topic that ha...

Supreme Court To Decide Whether Local Agencies Can Recover Costs Associated With Redacting Video Footage Under The Public Records Act

By:Manuel Martinez, Jessica Mejorado -

February 2019Number 8Rarely are state and local government agencies permitted to charge for the labor that goes into responding to a California Public Records Act (CPRA) request. In National Lawyers Guild v. City of Hayward (2018) 27 Cal.App.5th 937, the First District Court of Appeal held that the City of Hayward was entitled to reimbursement of costs associated with necessary redactions of body camera footage to produce the non-exempt portions of footage requested under the CPRA. This case ...

Court Reaffirms Governing Board’s Ability to Impose Reasonable Limits on Public Comment

By:Harold Freiman -

September 2018Number 51A California appellate court recently reaffirmed the limitations a governing board of a public entity can impose on public comments during a board meeting (Ribakoff v. City of Long Beach).BackgroundAs was his frequent practice, Joe Ribakoff attended a Long Beach Public Transportation Company (LBTC) board meeting as an interested citizen. LBTC's lone shareholder is the City of Long Beach, and LBTC operates as a public entity. During the public comment period, Ribakoff sp...

New Dates for Education Officials to Assume Office, Effective January 1

By:Louis Lozano, Benjamin Brown -

September 2018Number 49A new law will change the date that members of a county board of education, school district governing board, or community college district governing board take office. Assembly Bill (AB) 2449, which resolves clashing Education Code and Elections Code provisions, becomes effective on January 1, 2019.BackgroundExisting Education Code provisions require newly-elected county board of education members to be seated on the last Friday in November and newly-elected school and ...

Public Records Act Does Not Require Creation of Generalized Electronic Data

By:Harold Freiman, Nicholas 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...

  • Labor & Employment
  • Chisom et al. v. Bd. of Retirement et al. Court of Appeal, Fifth District. Case No. F064259 A recent published decision upholding a decade-old settlement agreement and rejecting a group of retired Fresno County employees' attempt to use parole evidence to advance an interpretation of the settlement agreement that would have allowed the former employees to pursue their claims for an "enhanced" non-service-connected disability retirement benefit.
  • Shiell, et al. v. County of Los Angeles, et al., Los Angeles County Superior Court Case No. BC208582, Equal protection action claiming staff members of a non-profit, public benefit corporation were entitled to the same rights, salaries and benefits of County employees because they performed the same work. A dispositive motion was decided in the County's favor.
  • Hall, et al. v. County of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Superior Court Case No. BC208583, Approximately 200 female attorneys of a non-profit, public benefit corporation brought a sex discrimination suit claiming they were not receiving the same salaries and benefits as male employees of the County, despite doing the same work. The County's dispositive motion was ultimately granted on the grounds that plaintiffs were using improper male comparators and had not shown any indicia of discrimination.
  • Law Enforcement
  • In Barnes v. City of Pasadena, the plaintiffs sued the City and two of its officers claiming improper use of deadly force and alleged that the involved officers had planted a gun on the decedent in order to cover-up their alleged wrongful actions. A subsequent investigation noted that the alleged assailant's fingerprints and DNA could not be found anywhere on the weapon. Despite the plaintiffs' allegations, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants. The plaintiffs filed an appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which unanimously affirmed the dismissal in favor of the City and its officers.
  • A Lozano Smith litigator was a key member of the team retained by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) to conduct a confidential internal affairs investigation of the officer-involved shooting death of Oscar Grant. This New Year's Day incident gained public attention throughout the Bay Area and the nation, sparking protests that extended for a number of weeks following the shooting. The investigation reviewed the actions of the police officers who were involved in the incident to determine any potential misconduct.
  • In Liddy, et al. v. City of Los Angeles, three former officers filed a series of federal civil rights actions against the City, as well as related employment and workers compensation claims. The officers were suspected in the Rampart investigation that arose upon the discovery of widespread corruption in the Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums (C.R.A.S.H.) anti-gang unit of the Los Angeles Police Department's Rampart Division in the late 1990s. Two of the three officers had received a $15-million dollar jury verdict in a companion case with the same judge, but different attorneys. A global settlement of 28 pending actions was reached at slightly more than the present value of the judgment.
  • Secured a complete defense verdict in a million-dollar claim against the City of Modesto and its police officers for excessive force in a barroom brawl arrest, Shepherd v. City of Modesto. The plaintiff alleged that she was physically assaulted by the officers while being arrested at the Copper Rhino Saloon. The court cleared Modesto of all charges of Fourth Amendment violations, assault and battery and use of excessive force.
  • In Govan v. City of Clovis, Lozano Smith successfully obtained dismissal of several constitutional and other statutory claims asserted by a Plaintiff business operator against the City of Clovis and individual City police officers, where the Plaintiff challenged the City of Clovis' sign ordinance and its enforcement. The District Court, entered judgment in the City's favor following dismissal of all of the Plaintiff's claims, which included several theories on the alleged violation of his First Amendment free speech rights, violation of his constitutional due process rights violation of his equal protection rights, and other state law claims.
  • Leonard Avila v. City of Los Angeles, et al. 9th Circuit Court of Appeal, Case No. 12-55931 where Lozano Smith successfully defended the City of Los Angeles and Los Angeles Police Department in an employment case. Following testimony, Lozano Smith asked the judge to dismiss certain claims because the officer had not introduced sufficient evidence. The judge agreed in part, and the jury was only asked to consider the officer's claims concerning retaliation under the FLSA and due process violations. The jury's verdict was a good one for the City and the LAPD, because they prevailed on the due process claim.