GDB represented its client in the defense of an action by a land development creditor seeking substantial damages based upon alleged liability under the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act, as codified in the California Civil Code. Following mediation, and while facing an imminent summary judgment motion, plaintiff voluntarily dismissed its action against GDB’s client, and GDB’s client recovered litigation costs.
GDB represented the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority in its capacity as the Airport Land Use Commission (ALUC) for San Diego County in an inverse condemnation action brought by private landowners with property adjacent to a public use airport. The landowners claimed that the ALUC’s adoption of an airport land use compatibility plan resulted in an unlawful taking of their properties. GDB obtained a judgment in favor of its client in the trial court, and successfully handled the matter through an appeal, in which the trial court decision was upheld. (Dryden Oaks, LLC v. San Diego County Regional Airport Authority (2017) 16 Cal.App.5th 383.)
GDB represented land development firms that previously owned property used as a shooting range in a cost recovery action seeking site remediation costs associated with remediation of lead and other alleged contaminants. The firm successfully defended federal court claims brought under CERCLA and RCRA in both the United States District Court and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal. GDB then defended a subsequent state court action brought pursuant to HSAA, and obtained a defense judgment after a lengthy court trial. Following an appeal, and appellate court decision that upheld critical aspects of the trial court decision, GDB resolved the matter on terms favorable to its clients. (Otay Land Co., LLC v. UE Limited, L.P. (2017) 15 Cal.App.5th; Otay Land Co. v. U.E. Ltd. LP (2006) 440 F.Supp.2d 1152.)
GDB represented the North Orange County Community College District in a CEQA compliance matter for a project involving the addition of bleachers, lighting and sound for a multi-purpose field located on Fullerton College campus. Despite organized project opposition from residential neighbors located immediately adjacent to the field, the EIR was certified, the project was approved, and there was no litigation challenging the adequacy of the EIR.
GDB has served as litigation defense counsel for builder and developer clients, and occasionally subcontractors and design professionals, in dozens of litigation matters over the past 30 years. GDB’s attorneys have represented clients in construction defect litigation concerning residential, commercial and mixed-use developments; schools; and other public works projects. The firm’s attorneys have successfully represented clients in construction defect litigation through lengthy jury trials and appeals, but has frequently resolved these matters through the use of alternative dispute resolution processes such as mediation.
GDB represented the Board of Trustees of the California State University (CSU) in a lawsuit filed by the City of Carson challenging the propriety of a determination made by the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) that CSU was the proper lead agency under CEQA for the CSU Dominguez Hills campus master plan project. The trial court ruled in CSU’s favor in holding that OPR’s determination was consistent with CEQA and the CEQA Guidelines and rejecting the City of Carson’s arguments that the public-private partnership (P3) aspects of the campus master plan necessitated designating the City as the lead agency.
The firm has represented the County of Orange on issues relating to the operation of John Wayne Airport (JWA) since 1980. This representation has included advising JWA on airport and airline compliance matters; airport master planning efforts; FAA orders and regulations, such as those pertaining to airline access and revenue diversion, the Airport Noise and Capacity Act, the Southern California Metroplex, and grant assurance compliance issues; airline lease negotiations; FBO compliance matters; CARB and SCAQMD air quality regulations and compliance matters; and, CEQA and NEPA compliance documentation. Key examples of the firm’s engagement include the negotiation of the original and amended settlement agreement governing operational capacity limits at JWA; the preparation of the airport’s access plan and regulation; and, the provision of counsel on numerous EIRs for capacity increases, airfield modifications, and commercial, general aviation and cargo facility improvements, including terminal expansions.
GDB defended a quarry operator against a lawsuit seeking damages based upon breach of contract and lien foreclosure. GDB successfully obtained summary adjudication on the lien foreclosure claim brought pursuant to California Civil Code Section 3060. An appellate court affirmed the trial court decision in favor of GDB’s client, holding the asserted lien did not qualify as a mining lien in accordance with the Civil Code. (Sukut Construction, Inc. v. Rimrock CA, LLC (2011) 199 Cal.App.4th 817.)
GDB represented real party in interest, Verizon Wireless, in a challenge involving a faux tree macro facility to be installed in a dedicated City park and near a natural preserve area. The opponents claimed that the facility approval violated CEQA, was inconsistent with City zoning regulations, and was barred by a City Charter provision stating that structures in the park had to be consistent with recreational uses. GDB obtained a judgment in favor of its client in the trial court, and successfully handled the matter through an appeal, in which the trial court decision was upheld. This was the first known published decision on the proper use of a CEQA exemption for a faux tree macro facility. (Don’t Cell Our Parks v. City of San Diego (2018) 21 Cal.App.5th 338.)
GDB assisted the Monterey Peninsula Airport District with the preparation of an updated airport master plan and corresponding CEQA & NEPA documentation, in the form of an EIR and EA, respectively, for the Monterey Regional Airport. The planning effort consisted of multiple short-term and long-term project components, such as the relocation and redevelopment of the commercial terminal complex; the construction of new and modified access roads; the relocation and expansion of general aviation amenities; numerous airfield design improvements; and the development of non-aviation uses on the airport. The airport master plan and environmental documentation were approved without litigation.
The firm serves as General Counsel for the Ontario International Airport Authority (OIAA) and, in that role, handles a wide range of legal and regulatory issues associated with Ontario International Airport’s transition from control by Los Angeles World Airports. The firm assists OIAA by providing general legal guidance to OIAA’s Board of Commissioners and executive officers on matters involving OIAA’s policies and procedures, agreements, and documents affecting the administration and operation of Ontario International Airport. The firm also provides legal advice on matters involving rules and regulations of the FAA, non-FAA federal and state airport regulatory issues, representation of OIAA before judicial and administrative bodies, and environmental resource and compliance issues, including NEPA and CEQA.
GDB worked with transportation consultant Fehr & Peers to prepare SB 743-based transportation study manuals for both California State University and the City of Chula Vista. SB 743 requires that lead agencies acting pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) analyze potential transportation-related impacts associated with a proposed project based on a vehicle miles traveled (VMT) metric, thereby replacing level of service (LOS) as the primary determinative criterion in transportation analysis. GDB coordinated with Fehr & Peers in the drafting and review of each agency’s study manual, including the evaluation of public and agency input on the draft manuals. Both manuals were ultimately approved by the respective governing bodies; i.e., the California State University Board of Trustees and the City of Chula Vista City Council.
GDB represents California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) in the preparation and legal defense of campus planning projects and supporting CEQA analysis. CSUMB is located on a decommissioned Army base, known as Fort Ord. The firm initially was retained to assist with a supplemental environmental impact report (EIR) prepared for the 2004 Campus Master Plan Update. Since that time, GDB has continued to work with the campus in the preparation of various CEQA documents for multiple campus projects and presently is working with the campus on the preparation of an EIR for a new, updated Campus Master Plan that would authorize increased student enrollment and supporting building and facility space for academic, housing, administration, student life, recreational, and institutional partnership purposes.
The firm represented the applicant of the Saggio Hills project, a 258-acre resort project in the City of Healdsburg, Sonoma County proposing a 130-room resort hotel, 70 resort residences/villas, and various public amenities (e.g., community park; fire substation). The firm specifically assisted with the preparation and certification of CEQA documentation addressing water supply and aesthetics impacts, as well as alternatives analysis. The documentation was supplemental and corrective in purpose, and required by judicial mandate in order to successfully comply with CEQA and court directives.
GDB was retained to represent the City of Oceanside, in its capacity as proprietor of Oceanside Municipal Airport, in connection with federal litigation relating to the City’s compliance with grant assurances incurred as a condition of the receipt of federal funds pursuant to the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program. At issue in the litigation was a settlement agreement entered into between the City and a third party that attempted to impair the City’s performance of its airport-related federal obligations and otherwise result in the transfer of airport property from public to private ownership without the consent of the FAA. The firm successfully obtained a favorable summary judgment decision on behalf of Oceanside from the U.S. District Court. (City of Oceanside v. AELD, LLC (2010) 740 F.Supp.2d 1183.)
GDB represented the operator of a sand and gravel mine in a CEQA lawsuit challenging the operator’s installation of a portable asphalt production facility. The petitioners claimed that the lead agency, the County of Imperial, should have required the mine operator to prepare an Environmental Impact Report instead of a Negative Declaration for the project, alleging that the project would have significant impacts on air quality, greenhouse gases, and biological resources. At the trial court, GDB successfully defended both the County and the mine operator against these allegations. The petitioners appealed, but the Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court decision in favor of the County and mine operator. (Community Science Institute v. County of Imperial (June 21, 2019, D073676) [nonpub. opn.].)
GDB represented the American Sand Association, an off-highway vehicle (OHV) group, in long-standing litigation over the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Recreation Area Management Plan (RAMP) for the Imperial Sand Dunes, the largest dune complex in the western hemisphere. The plaintiffs sued the BLM and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) under the federal Endangered Species Act, contending that the USFWS adopted a Biological Opinion for the RAMP that failed to properly address OHV-related impacts on federally-listed species, including the Peirson’s milk-vetch. The District Court for the Northern District of California ruled in favor of the BLM, the USFWS and the American Sand Association. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the trial court’s decision. (Center for Biological Diversity v. Bureau of Land Management (9th Cir. 2016) 833 F.3d 1136.)
GDB represented Verizon Wireless in a federal court action involving a challenge to a City’s denial of a wireless facility permit. After a settlement conference early in the case, the City agreed to reconsider the permit decision, and voted to overturn its previous decision and approve the permit to allow the facility to be constructed.
GDB represents the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority on matters related to the San Diego Airport Development Project, which involves a complete modernization of Terminal 1. GDB assisted the Airport Authority and its technical consultants in preparing the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Project, as required under CEQA and NEPA, respectively. Environmental impact issues addressed by GDB included nighttime noise effects on human health, potential disruption of nesting California least terns, stormwater capture, traffic, greenhouse gas emissions, and human health effects of air pollutants.
GDB assisted its real estate development client with preparation of a defensible EIR for the redevelopment of a defunct golf course in northwest Escondido as a 380-home residential community. After the project obtained the City Council’s hard-won approval, GDB continued to represent its client in a lawsuit brought by neighborhood opponents. The opponents challenged the redevelopment project’s approvals as in violation of CEQA and the City’s General Plan policies, including those adopted by a prior voter initiative. GDB obtained a judgment in its client’s favor, with the trial court holding that substantial evidence supported the City’s General Plan and CEQA determinations. After nearly seven years embroiled in controversy, the project broke ground in 2019.
GDB represented California State University (CSU) and San Diego State University (SDSU) in a CEQA compliance matter for a project proposing to comprehensively redevelop the former San Diego Chargers’ (NFL team) stadium site through the creation of a transit-oriented, multi-faceted university campus designed to serve both university needs and those of the surrounding region. The project includes approximately 4,600 residential units; about 1.6 million square feet of campus/innovation district development; a multi-use stadium; a community-serving river park; and other complementary amenities and supporting infrastructure. GDB counseled CSU and SDSU on the preparation and certification of an EIR for the project, and worked with numerous agency, organizational and individual stakeholders through the process. Despite the regional significance and scale of the project, no lawsuit was filed on CSU’s CEQA compliance actions.
GDB represented the applicant of the West Oaks project, a 192-unit multifamily residential project in the City of Carlsbad. The firm assisted with the preparation and approval of a mitigated negative declaration (MND) for the project, focusing on biological resource, habitat, and transportation issues. GDB also assisted the applicant in navigating recent state and local housing legislation. In approving the project, the City found that Senate Bill 330, the Housing Crisis Act of 2019, preempted the City’s growth management program and allowed the project to move forward. In compliance with the state’s “No Net Loss Law,” the project would implement the City’s Housing Element and ensure no net loss of sites identified for residential density. The City also granted requested concessions and waivers under the state’s Density Bonus Law in light of the project’s inclusion of 42 affordable housing units. Despite being located proximate to existing homes, no litigation was filed challenging the project’s approval or its CEQA compliance.
GDB represented the applicant of the Palomar Heights project, a 510-unit mixed-use redevelopment of the old Palomar Hospital site in downtown Escondido. The firm assisted the applicant with preparation and certification of the project’s CEQA documentation, addressing historic resources, greenhouse gas emissions, hazards, vehicle miles traveled, and other issues. When a local union filed a CEQA lawsuit challenging the infill project, the firm was promptly able to negotiate a successful settlement on its client’s behalf, creating a pathway for this vibrant project to revitalize Escondido’s downtown for years to come.