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 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 Municipal 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:

  • Open Meeting Laws/Brown Act
  • Records Request/Public Records Act
  • Conflicts of Interest and Ethics
  • Fees, Taxes & Assessments
  • Claims Against Public Agencies
  • Employment/Personnel and Collective Bargaining for Public Agencies
  • Land Use
  • Water Rights & Regulation
  • CEQA
  • Construction Advice and Litigation
  • Public Safety
  • Police
  • Fire
  • Code Enforcement
  • Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Intergovernmental Relations
  • Elections, Redistricting and Voting Rights Act
  • Public Agency Formation, Organization and Reorganization
  • Public Financing/Tax Exempt Bonds
  • Economic development
In addition, Lozano Smith assists clients with:
  • Land use and planning law
  • Real Estate law
  • FPPC regulations
  • Environmental Law (i.e., water, hazardous waste and municipal waste)
  • The Subdivision Map Act
  • Elections law
  • Contract law
  • Municipal tort law
  • Public contracts and franchises
  • Parliamentary procedure
  • Litigation experience
  • Process misdemeanor violations
  • PUC Proceedings
  • Eminent Domain
  • Joint Powers Shared Services Agreements

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 Municipal 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 Chowchilla, Clovis, Firebaugh, Fowler, Greenfield, Lemoore, and Reedley, as County Counsel for Madera County, 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 eight 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

Client Focused

Lozano Smith’s longstanding experience and dedication to public agency law provides police departments 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.

Internal Department Advice and Counsel

Serving as City Attorney for several cities throughout the State, Lozano Smith attorneys counsel and interact with police departments on an everyday basis. This includes issues such as police officer personnel files, Pitchess requests and policy updates. We provide advice and training on the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights (POBR) and are familiar with individual departments’ operations manuals. Our attorneys are also familiar with law enforcement technological resources, including, for example, mobile digital terminal and dispatch, and L-tac communications.

Police Employment

Our attorneys have vast experience assisting clients with POBR, and a significant portion of our firm’s resources is dedicated to employment counseling, employment litigation, and administrative proceedings. We have broad experience assisting clients in preventing, investigating and litigating claims of sexual harassment and all forms of employment discrimination, and our advocacy has been sought in a number of sensitive, high profile cases.

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

Police Civil Rights

Our attorneys frequently handle claims alleging violation of civil rights arising under both state and federal law, including lawsuits alleging violations of 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 and California’s equivalent, the Bane Act. Lozano Smith’s police civil rights attorneys vigorously defend peace officers in federal and state court against a wide variety of claims, including excessive force, unlawful arrest, civil rights, wrongful death, assault and battery, negligence and seizure actions.

We have handled numerous cases and represented clients against claims seeking punitive damages. Our focus on clients is regularly demonstrated with our understanding of the underlying training, policies and practices related to law enforcement officers. Not only do our attorneys provide law enforcement training, our deep bench of litigators and Local Government Practice Group work in conjunction with numerous departments to update and implement appropriate policies.

Code Enforcement

Our attorneys are well-versed in code enforcement, ultimately assisting in regulating matters related to public safety. Knowledge and expertise in this area includes:

  • Administrative fines and penalties
  • Civil compromise agreements
  • Cost recovery
  • Criminal prosecution of municipal code violations
  • Graffiti abatement
  • Injunctions
  • Inspection and abatement warrants
  • Neighborhood preservation
  • Nuisance abatement

Litigation

The Litigation Practice Group ensures the success and protection of its clients by specializing in:

  • Excessive Force
  • Personnel Disputes
  • Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation
  • ADA and State Disability Laws
  • Section 1983 and Civil Rights
  • Personal Injury and Tort Defense
  • Fair Labor Standards Act
  • Administrative hearings involving grievances, unfair practice charges, layoffs and dismissals, and arbitrations
  • Traditional and Administrative Writ of Mandate

Client Focused

With eight offices spread across California, Lozano Smith’s Local Government and Special Districts Practice Group provides advice in all areas of law affecting special districts, and provides specialized services in the following areas:

  • Adoption of local codes and amendments to the California Fire Code
  • Adoption of standards of service and Fire Code interpretations
  • 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
  • Matters concerning paid and volunteer fire fighters
  • Pension Issues
  • Personnel services, including implementation of the new Fire Fighters Procedural Bill of Rights
  • Real Estate negotiations and building contracts
  • Representation as general counsel
  • Representation of the Fire Agencies Insurance Risk Authority (FAIRA)
  • 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. Our attorneys have experience assisting clients with the Firefighters Procedural Bill of Rights Act (FOBOR).

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
James  Sanchez Senior Counsel
Fresno, Monterey jsanchez@lozanosmith.com
Walnut Creek, Sacramento, San Diego krezendes@lozanosmith.com
Fresno, Monterey mlerner@lozanosmith.com
Nicholas J. Clair Senior Counsel
Steve  Ngo Partner
Walnut Creek sngo@lozanosmith.com
Travis E. Cochran Senior Counsel
Sacramento, Monterey tcochran@lozanosmith.com

California Supreme Court Rejects Expansion of the Prevailing Wages Requirement

By:Arne Sandberg, Fabiola Rivera -

SeptemberNumber 24On August 16, 2021, the California Supreme Court rejected arguments in two cases that sought to expand the definition of “public works” under the prevailing wage statutory scheme, which was designed to enforce minimum wages on construction or maintenance projects paid with public funds. Both opinions are authored by Justice Carol Corrigan and reference each other, with Justices Goodwin Liu and Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar dissenting in both.In one case, the ...

Online Public Meetings Still Allowed Until September 30

By:Harold Freiman, Jessica Ozalp -

June 2021Number 12On March 17, 2020, the Governor issued Executive Order N-29-20. This order allowed local agencies to address emergent pandemic conditions by allowing local officials, and the public, to participate in public meetings via virtual platforms. Ordinarily, board attendance via teleconference is regulated by certain provisions of California’s open meeting law, the Ralph M. Brown Act (Brown Act). With recent announcements anticipating the end of certain COVID-19 related restr...

Face Coverings Still Required in Certain Circumstances under New Rules

By:Karen Rezendes, Joshua Whiteside -

June 2021Number 10The past two weeks have seen a flurry of changing guidance regarding the use of face masks at workplaces and schools. On June 17, 2021, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board adopted revised COVID-19 workplace rules and the Governor signed Executive Order N-09-21 making these rules effective immediately. The same day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance for fully vaccinated individuals to address changing rules on ...

SB 203 Extends and Expands Protections to Juveniles relating to Custodial Interrogations

By:Jenell Van Bindsbergen, Matthew Lear -

June 2021Number 9SB 203 Extends and Expands Protections to Juveniles relating to Custodial InterrogationsSenate Bill (SB) 203, signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom in late 2020, amended Welfare and Institutions Code section 625.6, relating to custodial interrogations of minors. Prior to the amendments, section 625.6 required law enforcement to ensure any youth aged 15 years or younger is provided with consultation with legal counsel prior to law enforcement engaging the youth in a custodi...

SB 95 - COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave

By:Michelle Cannon -

March 2021Number 7On March 19, 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill (SB) 95 into law. SB 95 provides COVID-19 supplemental paid sick leave (COVID-19 SPSL) to covered employees until September 30, 2021. The new sick leave is in addition to any existing sick leave granted under California or federal law, and any other sick leave offered by employers, including under any collective bargaining agreement.SB 95 is a response to the continued impacts of COVID-19 on the workforce subsequent...

Update on Timeline for Release of 2020 Census Redistricting Data and Impact On Upcoming CVRA Deadlines

By:Michael Smith, Ryan Tung, Jonathan Berry-Smith -

*** UPDATED AS OF 2/12/21 ***February 2021Number 4As stated in our February 2021 Client News Brief (link here), the impact of COVID-19 caused the Census Bureau to delay delivery of the 2020 Census apportionment data to the states.As an update, the Bureau recently announced that it will deliver the redistricting data to all states by September 30, 2021. This is two months later than previously expected, and six months later than the statutorily contemplated deadline. This delay will impact man...

Expiration of Expanded and Supplemental Leave under Federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act and AB 1867

By:Gabriela Flowers -

February 2021Number 2FFCRA LeaveIn March of 2020, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was passed by Congress. The FFCRA provided, among other things, expanded Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave for child care, and also required employers to provide up to 80 hours of Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) to employees for COVID-19 related reasons. Our Client News Brief discussing leave provisions granted by the FFCRA can be found here: 2020 Client News Brief Number 17. The FFC...

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.