School districts, cities and public agencies face a variety of complicated issues regarding contracting, real property, construction, and facilities use. In order to keep clients focused on the things that matter most - the success of their students and communities - Lozano Smith's Facilities and Business Practice Group was formed to provide efficient, professional service and to provide the expertise required to lead clients from project inception to completion. With more than 30 attorneys dedicated to this practice group, clients regularly appreciate the focus on the complex array of issues involved with acquiring properties, financing, building and modernizing schools, closing school sites, selling and leasing properties, use of school district facilities, and the myriad of other property and facility issues faced by today's school district and public agencies alike.Areas of Practice
To ensure the success of its clients, the Lozano Smith Facilities and Business Practice Group specializes in:
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 extensive experience dealing with the California Department of Education and other state agencies in the approval and acquisition of property. Our attorneys are very familiar with issues concerning entitlements, dedications, title and survey matters and real property due diligence.Construction Litigation
Addressing disputes that arise on construction projects is an expertise of our attorneys - from bid protests through closeout claims, and lawsuits, including stop notices, contractor bankruptcies and defaults, change order disputes, extra work claims, delay and/or disruption claims, professional consultant disputes, and construction defects. When disputes arise during a project, our advice balances project completion with the need to protect our clients' interests by asserting all valid positions and preserving evidence for potential claims and litigation.
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The construction of new facilities and modernization of existing facilities are issues common to many of our clients. While each new project presents unique circumstances, many considerations are common to most projects. We have accounted for these considerations in contractual documents that we have prepared and regularly update to assist our clients through a construction project. These documents include an architect agreement, construction management agreement, inspector of record agreement, and complete sets of construction contract documents for both general contractor and multiple prime contractor projects.
Our experience includes, having handled numerous inquiries and legal challenges concerning the public bidding process; advising lease/leaseback and other alternative construction delivery methods; assisting with the preparation of RFPs for construction managers and architects; assisting with procedures for substitution of subcontractors; advising school districts regarding the responsibility and responsiveness of bidding contractors; addressing legal questions regarding issues that arise during the construction process; aiding with project close-out; helping with state funding issues, including disputes with the State Allocation Board (SAB) and Office of Public School Construction (OPSC) over up-front issues and post-closeout audits; and dealing with bonding and surety issues, including surety takeovers or tenders in the event of contractor default or bankruptcy.
Increasingly in recent years, there has been an overlap between union and labor relations related issues and school construction. This has included the advent of the Labor Compliance Program and the transition to the Compliance Monitoring Unit program to ensure payment of prevailing wages. We have also assisted school districts in negotiating Project Labor Agreements.
In other areas where construction issues may overlap with a school district's own labor issues, our Labor and Employment Practice Group is available to step in to assist with our clients' needs. A number of our attorneys practice in both the Facilities and Business and Labor and Employment Practice Groups, ensuring complete service for every client.
Our attorneys also have extensive experience assisting with issues relating to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and other environmental laws. We frequently advise as to how to best navigate CEQA procedures and avoid challenges, and are often called upon to negotiate disputes concerning CEQA compliance. We also have experience negotiating the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) process, and have assisted in numerous instances regards concerning DTSC. For a checklist prepared by Lozano Smith regarding the different levels of CEQA review and when each may apply, please visit CEQA Checklist for School Districts.Energy Contractual, Regulatory and Legislative Matters
Lozano Smith's attorneys have also assisted in assessing options for energy related contracts, including energy management consultant agreements, renewable energy projects, and contracts for energy conservation retrofits, and have also advised on identifying and maximizing funding sources for such contracts. This work has included negotiations of a number of power purchase agreements and other high-value contracts for the installation of solar photovoltaic facilities, as well as assisting school districts on related issues, such as the application of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to the installation of solar panels.Developer fees and developer-built schools
Lozano Smith has long been a leader in the areas of developer fees and developer built schools. We have negotiated numerous developer fee agreements throughout the State. We have also defended challenges to both "Level 1" and "Level 2" impact fees, including through litigation. Lozano Smith has literally written the book on developer fees, publishing the Developer Fee Handbook for School Facilities, which is updated annually. Order the Developer Fee Handbook for School Facilities.