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
  • CEQA
  • Public Safety
  • Police
  • 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, Mission Viejo, Parlier, Fowler, Clovis, and Greenfield and as general counsel for many kinds of special districts.

Client Focused

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 nine 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)
  • Grievances
  • 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
  • Easements
  • Deeds of trust and Leases
  • Ordinances and Resolutions
  • Notices and Dispositions
  • Property acquisitions
Fresno, Bakersfield dbacigalupi@lozanosmith.com
Sacramento, San Diego dmaruccia@lozanosmith.com
Desiree  Serrano Senior Counsel
Los Angeles, Mission Viejo imacmillan@lozanosmith.com
Walnut Creek, Sacramento, San Diego krezendes@lozanosmith.com
Mary E. Binning Of Counsel
Los Angeles, Mission Viejo mbinning@lozanosmith.com
Los Angeles, Bakersfield tsims@lozanosmith.com
Los Angeles, Mission Viejo wcurley@lozanosmith.com

Appellate Courts Reject Recreational Trail Immunity for Adjacent Hazards

By:William Curley III, Arne Sandberg -

August 2017 Number 47 Two decisions in the last three months have increased the potential for a public entity to be held liable for an injury suffered on one of its recreational trails. Appellate courts deciding Garcia v. American Golf Corporation (May 3, 2017, No. B267613) ___ Cal.App.5th ___ and Toeppe v. City of San Diego (July 27, 2017, No. D069662) ___ Cal.App.5th ___ held that a public entity cannot assert recreational trail immunity when an adjacent hazardous condition of the publi...

California Travel Ban Does Not Apply to Local Agencies

By:Thomas Gauthier, Stephanie White -

July 2017 Number 41 A California law that bars state agencies from funding travel, and from requiring employees to travel, to states that permit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression - and Attorney General Xavier Becerra's recent expansion of the list of states covered by the ban - have raised questions regarding whether the law applies to cities, counties, school districts and community college districts. While there is no definitive l...

State's Top Court Rules that Contractors Can be Prosecuted for Conflict of Interest

By:Harold Freiman, Iain MacMillan -

July 2017 Number 40 The California Supreme Court has ruled that an independent contractor can be criminally liable for a conflict of interest under California Government Code section 1090, expanding the universe of penalties a contractor can face for violating the statute and reversing a prior appellate court ruling that exempted contractors from criminal liability for such conflicts. The Court's decision in People v. Superior Court (Sahlolbei) (June 26, 2017, No. S232639) ___ Cal.5th ...

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

By:Anne Collins, Nicholas 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...

Employers Must Provide Information on Rights of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking Victims

By:Dulcinea Grantham, Steven Nunes -

July 2017 Number 39 California employers with 25 or more employees must now inform their employees in writing about the legal rights of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking victims. Employers, including public agencies, must provide this information using the form prepared by the California Labor Commissioner or in a notice that is substantially similar to the Labor Commissioner's form in content and clarity. The form must be provided to new employees upon hire and to other empl...

New Law Requires Union Access to Employee Orientation Sessions

By:Louis Lozano, Dulcinea Grantham -

June 2017 Number 34 Governor Jerry Brown has signed legislation that requires public agency employers to give union representatives access to new employees during orientation sessions. The bill, which went into effect immediately after Brown signed it on June 27, is part of Assembly Bill (AB) 119, a budget trailer bill. The bill is a product of the efforts by unions representing public employees to mitigate the impact of an anticipated United States Supreme Court decision that could m...

DFEH Releases Guidelines on Anti-Harassment Policies, Training and Notice Regulations

By:Marisa Lincoln, Stephanie White -

June 2017 Number 33 The Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) recently released a Workplace Harassment Guide that includes recommended practices to enable employers to comply with California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) regulations aimed at preventing, investigating and addressing workplace harassment. DFEH also issued guidance and a poster related to identifying and addressing sexual harassment in the workplace. Effective April 1, 2016, California employers becam...

Representative Cases

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.