Practice Areas

 
 
General Municipal Law
 

GdB specializes in, and limits its practice exclusively to, municipal law. One of our core practice areas is serving as contract City Attorney. In this regard, we provide a wide spectrum of services common to the City Attorney role, including: attending council and planning commission meetings; preparing ordinances and resolutions; providing advice to the various city departments; interfacing with the city manager and department heads; attending staff meetings; negotiating contracts, development agreements, franchise arrangements and similar documents; advising council members and staff on conflict of interest laws and the Brown Act; undertaking code enforcement activities, including litigation if necessary; representing the City in various other forms of litigation; and in managing outside counsel. In a case where outside counsel is preferable, GdB will always bring the situation to the attention of the council and staff. We will also assist in finding the best counsel for the matter and negotiate favorable rates.

We are proud of our history of long term relationships with clients, which is a reflection of our commitment to providing client-tailored services in an effective and professional manner. GdB structures its relationship with the council and staff in the manner which the client desires, and provides the level of involvement that meets the client’s objectives and conforms to its budget expectations. Advice is always given in a practical and applicable manner, with concern to political and social contexts as well as to the client’s unique circumstances.

GdB is sensitive to the financial challenges facing cities in the current environment. We with staff in order to provide first quality representation while minimizing costs.

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General Municipal Litigation
 

GdB has built a successful general municipal litigation practice by providing our clients with pre-litigation advice and representation during mediation, arbitration, litigation and appellate representation, when necessary. We have represented our municipality and public agency clients as both plaintiffs and defendants on a broad range of issues including:

  • First Amendment litigation in connection with various municipal actions, including sign regulation and sexually oriented businesses;
  • Environmental compliance;
  • Real estate disputes;
  • Breach of contract matters;
  • Assessment district foreclosures;
  • Condemnation;
  • Validation actions;
  • Medical marijuana issues;
  • Code enforcement; and
  • Litigation involving AB x1 26 redevelopment issues.

In situations where hiring outside counsel has been appropriate, GdB has supervised the efforts of that counsel to ensure efficiency and cost effectiveness, as well as a successful result. We provide our clients with routine litigation status updates on all litigation in which the City is a party, even if handled by outside counsel.

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Public Finance
 

GdB dedicates a portion of its practice to public finance, particularly in connection with the issuance of tax-exempt securities by public authorities and agencies, municipalities and other government issuers. We advise clients on various legal issues, serve as disclosure counsel and render legal opinions, as necessary, to facilitate the issuance of bonds.

GdB’s representation covers issues related to:

  • Assessments;
  • Special tax and Mello-Roos community facility districts, including all substantive and procedural aspects underlying the formation of such districts and the rendering of advice on prevailing wage requirements;
  • City exactions; and
  • Economic impacts of proposed taxes, the effects of implementation thereof and the reasonableness of the provisions of bond financing as structured by underwriters or financial consultants.

GdB attorneys have also acted as legal counsel to municipalities in connection with such matters as:

  • Restructuring of indebtedness;
  • Annexations;
  • Drafting of contracts for municipal services;
  • Structuring of joint powers authorities involving specific project financing;
  • Advising on the effect of actions or financing by other entities, both public and private; and
  • Refinancing and restructuring of assessment and Mello-Roos districts where changes in circumstances have resulted in financial instability.

Additionally, due in part to the economic pressures on many cities, we have worked with consultants and polling firms to determine public sentiment for possible revenue ballot measures, reviewed and approved public information mailings, drafted ballot language and advised clients on various aspects of election law.

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Real Estate Services
 

The firm is experienced in real estate matters, and has represented municipal and public agency clients in every aspect of real estate acquisition, sales and financing. In connection with many complex projects, we have provided comprehensive and sophisticated services which cover such issues as mortgages, construction loans, permanent and bridge financing, and entitlement issues and procedures. GdB has been a trusted resource for over thirty years for real estate transactions, including large conference centers, hotels, athletic facilities, golf courses, regional commercial and retail centers, large housing projects, cannabis facilities and a variety of affordable housing matters.

In our real estate practice, we negotiate with diverse governmental bodies, such as the United States Department of Defense, the Federal Aviation Agency, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, US Fish & Wildlife, California Fish & Game, the Army Corps of Engineers, various regional water agencies, and the US and California Environmental Protection Agencies. We prepare purchase and sale agreements, development agreements, disposition agreements, owner participation agreements, leases, easements, licenses, CC&R’s, land use restriction documents, loan documents and a variety of other contracts or forms required in our highly diverse real estate practice.

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Environmental Law and Litigation
 

Beginning in 1990 with an unusual case involving a proposed professional football stadium to be located in the City of Irwindale, GdB’s environmental law and litigation practice has been involved in some of the most interesting environmental issues in California. Since that time, we have formed the biggest redevelopment project area in the State of California and litigated numerous environmental lawsuits brought in connection with that project area, ultimately achieving a complete victory at both the trial and appellate levels. GdB has also represented a major winter sports area in connection with a regional project which involved a major upgrade in resort and ski facilities, winning an environmental challenge at the trial level. We represented clients in a challenge to the massive Ahmanson Ranch project located in western Los Angeles County and eastern Ventura County, and in a challenge to a large automotive testing facility to be constructed in the California high desert area.

The bulk of our environmental work, however, has been in connection with projects undertaken or supported by our municipal clients. Through careful pre-approval advice, we have assisted our clients in avoiding successful challenges to environmental determinations, including EIR’s, most often without litigation.

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Condemnation
 

GdB has represented public clients in eminent domain proceedings for over twenty years, resulting in extensive experience with all areas of condemnation, including the use of immediate possession procedures and the litigation of goodwill values, severance damages and inverse condemnation. We represent clients both at the trial and appellate levels. Our experience includes proceedings involving a wide range of public purposes, including freeway widening, ramps and overpasses, street widening and other public facilities, railroad grade separations and redevelopment.

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Redevelopment and AB x1 26 Compliance
 

At GdB, we have been helping clients navigate the complexities of California redevelopment issues for well over twenty-five years. In that time, we have represented numerous cities and redevelopment agencies throughout the state in virtually every aspect of redevelopment law. As a result, GdB became one of California’s most capable and experienced redevelopment firms.

Since the enactment of AB x1 26, which eliminated redevelopment agencies, GdB has been advising and assisting clients on post-redevelopment compliance. We prepare documentation required pursuant to AB x1 26, including Enforceable Obligation Payment Schedules, Recognized Obligation Payment Schedules and other related documentation, as well as negotiate directly with the Department of Finance. Our experience in a wide variety of projects is invaluable in AB x1 26 compliance and enables us to provide advice on any type of former agency asset. We constantly work to stay abreast of the latest developments and any pending legislation which may affect the operation of successor agencies and/or oversight boards.

For those cities who have elected to become housing agencies after the elimination of their former redevelopment agencies, GdB provides all-encompassing legal services to educate and advise them on affordable housing matters, including assisting in the creation of a number of housing-related programs, including:

  • Infill housing;
  • First time buyer mortgage assistance;
  • Single family rehabilitation;
  • Multi-family construction;
  • Mobile home park conversion;
  • Negotiation on the terms of agreements with developers and property owners, including non-profit affordable housing developers and preparation of the necessary documentation;
  • Counseling agencies on publication and notice requirements, in addition to all other pertinent provisions of the law;
  • Collaboration with other public agencies where required;
  • Advising on applicable environmental laws, such as the California Environmental Quality Act.
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Military Base Closure and Reuse
 

Immediately following Congress’ adoption of BRAC in 1998, GdB extended the scope of our practice to include military base closure and related reuse activities. Now our military base closure practice is exceptional in its scope of experience and knowledge.

GdB was instrumental in the drafting and adoption of special State legislation pertaining to the closure of two military facilities and have served as general counsel to the joint powers authority that acquired one of them, and as general counsel of the entity operating an airport facility there.
GdB also served as a consultant in connection with the closure of Agana Naval Air Station, Guam, advising the local reuse authority in the complex area of federal base reuse law, negotiating with the US Air Force and preparing a variety of documents.

Our services in base reuse, originally focused on acquisition, have grown to include operational issues such as runway extension, licensing and compliance with federal and state regulations. GdB’s strategy for reuse focuses on attracting airport-related businesses to the area to alleviate the financial impact on a client after a base closure. Our efforts include traveling with reuse officials to overseas locations to meet with prospective tenants of the airport. We also negotiate and prepare leases, operating agreements and related documents for our client as businesses relocate to the base.

GdB has been a pioneer in this area of the law, developing a unique capability in the process. Our cumulative experience includes:

  • Interpreting and implementing federal base closure laws;
  • Negotiating and consulting with various levels of the federal government and the Department of Defense;
  • Collaborating with elected representatives, including United States Senators and Congressmen as well as State Assembly persons and the Office of the Governor;
  • Consulting with local political figures and community groups;
  • Developing and reviewing base reuse planning documents;
  • Reviewing and implementing federal and state grant programs; and
  • Evaluating state and federal environmental documents.
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Municipal Utilities
 

GdB has experience in representing cities in connection with both municipally owned and contractor provided utilities.

In the area of solid waste, we have assisted clients in:

  • Development, operation and closure of landfills, including regulatory and environmental issues;
  • Addressing issues relating to material recovery facilities, environmental issues and rail-haul related programs;
  • Counseling on compliance with the waste reduction requirements of AB 939, recycling and green waste issues;
  • Negotiating waste service and hauling contracts with system vendors, municipal system participants, franchise haulers and energy and materials customers;
  • Negotiating with the state for construction assistance grants;
  • Providing representation in connection with joint powers authorities for waste management services, including formation of the authority and operational and regulatory issues;
  • Establishing comprehensive mandatory waste collection and disposal programs.

GdB is also active in water and sewage matters, including serving as general counsel for a reclamation district and a municipal water agency, and representation of a city in a water basin adjudication.
We have represented clients in various matters concerning electrical utility issues, including the construction and operation of an electrical generation facility, and issues involving outside providers and transmission facilities.

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Code Enforcement
 

In addition to our other practice areas, GdB represents municipalities in code enforcement matters as well. Services we provide include obtaining compliance with municipal ordinances through informal means, administrative abatement, civil injunction and formal prosecution. We carefully select specific enforcement tactics for municipalities that, through years of experience, we have found to ensure maximum effectiveness while minimizing costs.

Our services cover all aspects of code enforcement, from advising municipal clients, to prosecuting administrative actions and successfully defending administrative decisions in court. Our initial step is to seek an informal resolution, which helps to save our clients’ time and resources while avoiding unnecessary publicity. However, when necessary, our prosecution services include initial review, case evaluation and final prosecution. As a result of our comprehensive code enforcement strategy, we have an outstanding record of success, including receiving substantial fee and cost restitution orders for our clients.
Other services GdB offers are to: prepare code enforcement forms; appear on behalf of code enforcement at administrative hearings; petition for injunctive and declaratory relief; and draft updates to code enforcement ordinances. Our attorneys routinely monitor and update city staff on legislation and new case law affecting code enforcement and conduct training workshops for code enforcement staff as well.

GdB attorneys have experience in a wide array of violations and provide services, including, but not limited to, the following:

GdB attorneys have experience in a wide array of violations and provide services, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Prosecution in administrative hearings to close massage establishments, restaurants, and mobile food vendors, when warranted, and appeal hearings regarding the conditions of residential properties brought by property owners and lien holders;
  • Drafting notification of violation letters to violators to compel compliance;
  • Preparation of numerous forms for use by code enforcement personnel, including addressing issues on foreclosed properties;
  • Providing legal services for animal control matters and updating clients on proper administrative procedures and regulations for issues such as vicious animals; and
  • Regulation and closing of medical marijuana dispensaries operating in violation of local regulations, via both criminal prosecution and civil injunction.
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Cannabis Matters
 

The firm has written or modified a number of ordinances relating to regulating or banning cannabis facilities. We have also counseled clients on a variety of matters involving cannabis, including all pertinent state and federal laws. Gdb has drafted a number of documents related to this issue, including development agreements, public information materials and regulations and procedures relating to facilities. The firm has experience in a number of litigation proceedings related to medical marijuana and other cannabis matters, with a remarkable history of success.

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