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
Iain J. MacMillan Senior Counsel
Los Angeles, Mission Viejo imacmillan@lozanosmith.com
James  Sanchez Senior Counsel
Fresno, Monterey jsanchez@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

Retiree Work Hour Limitation Suspended for Fire and Mudslide Response Work

By:Thomas Manniello -

February 2018 Number 4 Governor Jerry Brown has suspended the 960-hour per year work hour limit for retired annuitants who assist California counties battling fires and mudslides. CalPERS announced Brown's suspension of the rule in a January 29 Circular Letter. Governor Brown issued a pair of executive orders lifting the work hour limit and other rules in an effort to expedite hiring of emergency workers and to streamline the recovery of communities devastated by the disasters. In addi...

State Adopts Comprehensive Housing Legislation

By:Harold Freiman, William Curley III, James Sanchez, Lauren Kawano -

December 2017 Number 81 Facing one of the tightest housing markets in California history, state lawmakers have approved an extensive package of bills intended to maintain existing housing stocks and boost new housing construction. These bills become effective on January 1, 2018. This legislative package will provide funding to stimulate housing production and will eliminate procedural hurdles to getting housing built. Alternatively, though, the bills also require more detailed justific...

New Law Requires Legal Consult Prior to Custodial Interrogation of Minor under Age 16

By:Jenell Van Bindsbergen, Leila Alamri-Kassim -

November 2017 Number 78 Beginning January 1, 2018, minors under the age of 16 must consult with legal counsel prior to a custodial interrogation and before waiving their Miranda rights. Existing law requires a peace officer to advise minors of their rights by providing a Miranda warning. But if the minor or parent waives those rights, officers can interrogate the minor. Senate Bill (SB) 395, which adds section 625.6 to the Welfare and Institutions Code, will prohibit a law enforcement ...

Law Enforcement's Role in the New Sanctuary State

By:William Curley III, Iain MacMillan -

November 2017 Number 75 On October 5, 2017, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill (SB) 54, known as the California Values Act, which sharply limits how state and local law enforcement authorities cooperate and coordinate with federal immigration officials. SB 54 seeks to protect the estimated 2.3 million undocumented immigrants in California in the face of the Trump Administration's calls for deportation. Limits on Local Enforcement Effective January 1, 2018, this new "...

Legislative Update: Bill Eases Fee Collection for Storm Water Systems

By:David Wolfe, Nicholas 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...

New Restrictions on Disclosure of Video and Audio Recordings

By:Penelope Glover, Ellen Denham -

November 2017 Number 72 A new law will restrict the public disclosure of video and audio recordings created during the commission or investigation of rape, incest, sexual assault, domestic violence, or child abuse that depicts the face, intimate body part, or voice of a victim of the incident. Assembly Bill (AB) 459 goes into effect on January 1, 2018. The California Public Records Act (CPRA) requires public agencies to respond to a records request within 10 days, and to make eligible...

Legislative Update: Employers Can't Ask, but Applicants Can Tell

By:Darren Kameya, Carolyn Gemma -

October 2017 Number 68 Employers, including public agency employers, will be forbidden from asking job applicants for their salary history when Assembly Bill (AB) 168 becomes effective on January 1, 2018. AB 168 explicitly prohibits public agency employers from asking job applicants for salary history information. However, when an applicant voluntarily and without prompting provides salary history information, employers may use the information as a factor in determining salary if the e...

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.