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Sarah E. Owsowitz

Of Counsel

Walnut Creek
2001 N. Main Street
Suite 390
(925) 977-3308

Sarah E. Owsowitz’s practice focuses on California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) advice and litigation, with a particular concentration on urban decay, climate change, water supply, and cultural resource issues. She is of counsel in Best Best & Krieger LLP’s Environmental Law and Natural Resources practice group.

Sarah represents both public and private clients in administrative proceedings and litigation involving CEQA, as well as state and local planning and zoning laws. In particular, she has substantial experience in obtaining entitlements and preparing and defending environmental impact reports for large-scale development projects, hospital retrofits and renewable energy projects.

Of note, Sarah has successfully defended against challenges to the adequacy of environmental impact reports and site plans for large-scale grocery stores in Venturans for Responsible Growth v. City of Ventura (2013) [unpublished decision]; Erickson et. al. v. City of Clovis (2012) [unpublished decision]; Citizens for Responsible Growth v. City of Bakersfield (2010) [unpublished decision]; and Tracy First v. City of Tracy (2009) 177 Cal.App.4th 912. She also successfully defended against an attempt to file a challenge to a water supply assessment in California Water Impact Network v. Newhall County Water District et al. (2008) 161 Cal.App.4th 1464.

She is the author of multiple CEQA and land use related articles including “Caught Between a CEQA Rock and General Plan Hard Place,” California Public Law Journal August 2013; CEQA: A Vehicle for Consideration and Protection of Native American Traditional Cultural Properties and Cultural Landscapes,” Riverside Lawyer Magazine October 2012; and "Case Law on the Limits of CEQA Review for Design Review Is Good News for Cities and Counties Looking to Bring in New Development,” California Public Law Journal November 2011. She lectures regularly on topics such as current trends in CEQA case law, the use of the joint defense privilege by public agencies, and the preparation and defense of water supply analyses in CEQA documents.

Sarah serves on the California Special District Association’s Public Works Coalition committee as an advocate for CEQA reform and is a past member of the executive committee of the State Bar of California Real Property Section. Super Lawyers Business Edition selected her as a Super Lawyer for her work in environmental law in 2015. Northern California Super Lawyers Magazine selected her as a “Northern California Super Lawyer” for Land Use Law in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, as a “Northern California Rising Star” for Land Use Law from 2009 to 2012, and placed her on the “Top Women Attorneys in Northern California” list in 2014.

Prior to joining Best Best & Krieger, Sarah was with Cox Castle & Nicholson and Morrison & Foerster. Before that, for nearly seven years, she served as a deputy city attorney for the City and County of San Francisco.


  • University of Minnesota, J.D. (1998)
  • University of Minnesota, M.P. (1998)
  • University of Chicago, B.A. (1995)

Bar Admissions

  • California (1999)

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