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 Special Districts 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
- 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 Chowchilla, Clovis, Firebaugh, Fowler, Greenfield, Lemoore, Mission Viejo, and Reedley, as County Counsel for Madera County, and as general counsel for many kinds of special districts.
Lozano Smith’s longstanding experience and dedication to public agency law provides special districts with unique, multi-faceted areas of expertise. Our Local Government, Labor & Employment and Litigation Practice Groups, among others, regularly collaborate to serve clients on the most pressing issues, with a focus on cost-preventive measures. With eight offices spread across California, Lozano Smith’s Local Government Practice Group provides advice in all areas of law affecting special districts, and provides specialized services in the following areas:
- Annexation/detachment and modification of service boundaries
- Approval and review of loan documents and lease agreements
- Bargaining and Labor Negotiations
- Brown Act/Public Records Act issues
- California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), DTSC compliance
- Code enforcement and business/building inspections
- Development of policies, procedures and protocols
- Facilities issues
- Litigation in all areas of representation
- Pension Issues
- Real Estate negotiations and building contracts
- Representation as general counsel
- Review of contracts and agreements with other agencies (automatic aid agreements, dispatch services agreements, equipment purchases)
- Review of public records requests
Labor & Employment
We have devised and implemented a process to assist staff in reviewing requests for accommodation from employees and returning injured employees to work. We are familiar with the workers’ compensation law process and have specific expertise in the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Other areas in which we have expertise and training include:
- Drafting of Disciplinary Charges
- Due Process Hearings
- Employee Discipline and Termination
- Employee Evaluation
- Family and Medical Leave Laws (FMLA/CFRA)
- Harassment and Discrimination Investigations
- Labor Negotiations
- Management and Employee Contracts
- Military Leave
- Personnel Policies
- Pre Employment Screening
- Recruitment and Hiring
- Sexual Harassment/Retaliation
- Whistle Blower Statutes
Development, Public Contracting and Public Works
Lozano Smith attorneys have drafted numerous Development Agreements, Real Estate transactions without regulatory elements, Owner Participation Agreements, Disposition and Development Agreements, Affordable Housing Agreements, and special district/civic center transactions. In addition, our attorneys are experienced with matters involving urban renewal, economic development, and Community Development Block Grant Programs.
Lozano Smith has extensive experience in all aspects of property acquisition, including reviewing, drafting and negotiating sophisticated real property transactions. These transactions have included negotiated purchases, real property exchanges with both private and public entities, acquisition through developer agreements, and eminent domain. We also have represented numerous public agencies in public property sale and leases, as well as joint use agreements. Our attorneys are very familiar with issues concerning entitlements, easements, dedications, title and survey matters and real property due diligence.
Since the firm’s inception, our attorneys have advised public agencies on the myriad of legal issues presented by the procurement of services, equipment and materials. Our attorneys are experienced in prevailing wage and public bidding requirements as they relate to municipalities and special districts. The firm’s statewide presence and internal sharing of information serves our clients and results in cost savings to them.
More than half of the attorneys on our staff manage business transactions each day, giving us the depth of experience to successfully review and advise our clients on these types of transactions. Specific areas in which we regularly provide advice and counsel include:
- Legislative and judicial actions/decisions
- Contracts (general)
- Capital Improvement Projects (construction contracts, including bidding, award and defense)
- Bid challenges
- Deeds of trust and Leases
- Ordinances and Resolutions
- Notices and Dispositions
- Property acquisitions
Court Clarifies Interplay Between Education Code Discipline And The Brown Act’s 24-Hour Notice Requirement
February 2019 Number 14 In Ricasa v. Office of Administrative Hearings, certified for publication on January 14, 2019, the California Court of Appeal attempted to harmonize an apparent dissonance between the Ralph M. Brown Act's personnel exception, and the disciplinary procedures of the Education Code. The opinion constitutes the first time an appellate court has ruled on the Brown Act's personnel exception in the context of community college districts, and the opinion's implications rea...
Records Owned And Held By A Third Party Are Not Public Records Even If A Public Agency Has A Right To Access Such Records
March 2019 Number 16 A recent California appellate court ruling has clarified the reach of the California Public Records Act (CPRA). InAnderson-Barker v. City of Los Angeles, the Second District Court of Appeal held that records in the possession of a third party contractor under a contract with the City of Los Angeles were not subject to the CPRA where the city had access to but did not actually possess or control the records. Background In Anderson-Barker, the plaintiff sought to ...
February 2019 Number 12 A California appellate court has ruled that lay public opinions on nontechnical issues concerning a project's size and general appearance can provide substantial evidence of environmental impact, triggering the need to prepare an environmental impact report (EIR) under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The California Environmental Quality Act CEQA generally requires public agencies to identify potentially significant impacts of projects they ca...
February 2019 Number 11 A settlement agreement was recently reached between the California Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Stockton Unified School District (District) to address discriminatory treatment of minority students and students with disabilities. The agreement resolves a comprehensive investigation conducted by the DOJ, which found that the District's policies and practices with respect to law enforcement referrals discriminated against African-American and Latino students as we...
February 2019 Number 10 In Associated Chino Teachers v. Chino Valley Unified School District (Nov. 29, 2018, E068163) __ Cal.4th __, the California Court of Appeal for the Fourth Appellate District determined that complaints regarding a high school teacher's alleged aggressive behavior were not substantial enough to require disclosure under the California Public Records Act (CPRA). Chino Valley Unified School District ("District") had sought to release these documents in resp...
Supreme Court To Decide Whether Local Agencies Can Recover Costs Associated With Redacting Video Footage Under The Public Records Act
February 2019 Number 8 Rarely 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...
December 2018 Number 87 On October 22, 2018, the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) upheld an administrative law judge (ALJ) decision finding that the Petaluma City Elementary School District/Joint Union High School District ("District") interfered with employee and organizational rights by: (1) directing employees not to distribute literature "of a political or union nature" on District property, including during non-work time and in on-work areas; and (2) directing employees not t...
|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.|
|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.|
|Lozano Smith represented the City of Los Angeles in one of the largest class action disability lawsuits in the country. In Willits, et al. v. City of Los Angeles, the plaintiff filed an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) complaint to install curb cuts and sidewalk repairs throughout the City, to enforce the ADA. This case involved extensive E-Discovery of the City and its various departments’ internal data management system. The recently negotiated settlement will allow the City to completely revitalize its public right-of-ways to assure that all of the residents and visitors are able to fully participate in all of the available programs and services offered by the City.|