Land Development Entitlements
Brewer Lofgren is known for its strategic engagement in all aspects of large, complex and controversial projects that involve land use, redevelopment, brownfield properties, public financing, permitting, rezoning and infrastructure development. In the public sector, the firm has managed implementation of key economic development projects, including a mixed-use project in a historic area, and retail expansion and acquisition of a private sports complex facility.
The firm’s principals expertly navigate the issues that surface when dealing with multiple public agencies and private developers, and they guide multidisciplinary teams on strategies to achieve client goals. Working with a team of planners, engineers, architects, and scientists, Brewer Lofgren assists in the creation of land use master plans for property and obtains regulatory approval for those plans.
Experience and credibility, combined with long-standing and respected relationships among public agency officials, allow Brewer Lofgren to facilitate efficient and swift solutions to complex issues. To garner political support for public policy and initiatives related to regional growth, local agency boundaries, spheres of influence and annexation, the firm works with cities, counties, and regional agencies (including SACOG, LAFCo and Sacramento Air Quality Management District) on behalf of private clients. The firm also engages stakeholder groups to identify areas of common agreement with private landowners and public agencies.
Brewer Lofgren reviews and advises on all documents required for compliance under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), including Notices of Preparation, Initial Studies, Mitigated Negative Declarations and Environmental Impact Reports. The firm evaluates technical studies and works with consultants in preparation of same to meet CEQA requirements. Brewer Lofgren reviews mitigation measures and conclusions regarding significance of impacts and recommends strategies for creation of the administrative record to withstand legal challenge. The firm also drafts findings of fact and statements of overriding considerations for legislative approval.
Permitting and Regulatory Approvals
Brewer Lofgren develops creative and nimble solutions to permitting and regulatory issues. With the unique perspective of public agency legal and management experience, Brewer Lofgren helps its clients manage the rules, regulations and policies that place conditions or limits on the use and reuse of property. Project issues are resolved expeditiously through enduring relationships with key decision makers at the local, regional, state and federal levels.
Brewer Lofgren offers a public management perspective that provides useful solutions to public, private and nonprofit interests. Expertise includes the development of long-term fiscal policies and strategic plans for local government agencies, negotiations with labor unions concerning employee compensation packages and management issues, and the management and resolution of sensitive ethical issues involving local and appointed agency staff.
For the City of Folsom, while city manager, Martha Lofgren facilitated meetings with community stakeholders (business, residential and community activists) and elected and appointed officials, which provided the basis for multi-year strategic plans with benchmarks and quarterly reports.
The firm has twice provided consultation to the City of Elk Grove City Manager and Council on the preparation of the City’s Strategic Plan and facilitated public sessions to create the strategic plan (2015 and 2017).
Brewer Lofgren facilitated preparation of 2012 and 2013 strategic plans for the Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, and met with approximately 50 board members each year to develop immediate and three-year priorities. The firm also provided oversight and review of the regional economic development blueprint for Next Economy.
Brewer Lofgren drafts and revises by-laws for nonprofit organizations in the area of economic development, arts, leadership and political action committees. The firm also advises CEOs and boards as legal counsel to nonprofits (including the Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and the American Leadership Forum).
Development Agreements and Contracts
Brewer Lofgren negotiates development agreements, fee agreements and financing agreements on behalf of the property owner or developer with local governments, establishing the rules, regulations, reimbursement mechanisms, and policies governing a long-term development project. With experience negotiating complex agreements in multiple jurisdictions, Brewer Lofgren brings a “best practice” perspective to each project.
The firm has negotiated public-private economic development and redevelopment agreements with particular focus on projects constructed in sensitive historic areas. Brewer Lofgren has also been successful in negotiating extensions of time for completion of improvements under Subdivision Improvement Agreements to avoid disputes over improvement security. Brewer Lofgren also negotiates agreements with public agencies for donation of land as open space, achieving both tax benefits and relief from assessment payments on land with little development potential.
Spheres of Influence, Annexations and Incorporations
Brewer Lofgren advises private clients on strategies for revising city and special district boundaries, including spheres of influence and ultimately annexation. Successes include work on the Rancho Cordova incorporation effort on behalf of private property interests, including the successful negotiation of city boundaries, and the Memorandum of Understanding between the City of Folsom and the County of Sacramento that led to the expansion of the city’s sphere of influence and annexation of approximately 3,500 acres.
On behalf of private lenders, Brewer Lofgren provides analysis of project approvals, including conditions of approval, mitigation measures, public facility financing plans, affordable housing plans, resource conservation plans, development agreements and other contracts between government agencies to assist lenders to evaluate the risks associated with land development projects.
Brewer Lofgren negotiates mining permits and reviews CEQA documents for mining operations in multiple jurisdictions. This work calls upon our extensive experience with public agencies.
Brewer Lofgren provides specialized expertise in the negotiation, implementation and development of all phases of public-private partnerships, including multifaceted redevelopment projects that might include sensitive historic areas. With negotiation and drafting experience from the public sector perspective, Brewer Lofgren brings unique insight into the tools available from local government to enhance economic development efforts.
The firm’s considerable experience includes contributions to the development of a specific plan that featured planning, financing and siting an intermodal transit center. Brewer Lofgren has also tackled such issues as congestion relief and the extension of light rail, as was accomplished by the Highway 50 Corridor Mobility Partnership—a coordinated effort among four public agencies and four private landowners.
Infill Project Development: Entitlement Audits
With depressed real estate values and acquisition of undeveloped property through foreclosure or short sales, Brewer Lofgren has assisted new owners renegotiate conditions of approval to create economically feasible projects.
This work includes an overall review and “entitlement audit” to evaluate which conditions are not tied to CEQA mitigation and which fees go beyond nexus requirements, such as removal of requirements for school construction, extra park dedication (through land or fees), and reevaluation of affordable housing requirements.