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Special Districts

Best Best & Krieger has one of California's most extensive practices providing legal services to special districts, including water agencies, sanitation districts, joint power agencies, community services districts, fire protection districts, transportation agencies, park and recreation districts, hospital districts, local agency formation commissions and multi-jurisdictional redevelopment agencies.

Our clients are located throughout Northern, Central and Southern California, and we are fully accessible to serve their boards of directors with a full range of general counsel services.

Governance matters are a particular focus of our general counsel work, as our lawyers provide advice on all aspects of governing a public agency – from the introduction and adoption of minute orders, resolutions and ordinances, to the timing and structure of public hearings and presentations to the public.  This includes advising our board clients on the Brown Act’s open meeting law provisions, public records requirements, conflicts of interest and other procedural matters.

As general counsel to both large and small water agencies, our lawyers represent dozens of public agencies that serve water to more than 21 million people throughout California. We regularly advise these clients on all aspects of allocating scarce water supplies as well as acquiring, developing and maintaining surface and ground water rights.  BB&K also is a vigorous water rights advocate for our water district clients before federal and state courts across California and the West, as well as in proceedings of the State Water Resources Control Board and Regional Water Quality Control Boards.

In addition to our general counsel services, BB&K is frequently retained as special counsel by district boards to handle specific matters that require guidance on such focused areas of law as infrastructure construction projects and the levying of fees and assessments.  A particular focus of our special counsel work is representing special districts in litigation.  In a recent example, we saved two Southern California water districts more than $300 million with a federal court victory in a case that involved breach of contract and water rights claims brought by the U.S. government and a neighboring water district.  Other special counsel services we provide include advice on:

  • Public contracts and bidding
  • Financing help as lead bond counsel, special counsel or underwriter’s/disclosure counsel
  • The adoption, levy and defense of taxes, assessments and fees and charges
  • Employment and labor issues, as we defend clients against unfair labor or discipline practice allegations filed with the National Labor Relations Board and the Public Employment Relations Board, as well as against claims of discrimination, harassment and wrongful termination
  • Design and implementation of non-qualified deferred compensation plans for special districts and other public employers
  • Compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) or the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), particularly in handling the complete CEQA environmental approval process in large scale public-private redevelopment efforts
  • Development and funding of alternative and renewable energy projects involving solar, geothermal and wind power
  • Analysis of project impacts on climate change and global warning, including the processes for developing “green” standards for building, landscaping and public contracts

For additional information, please contact Jeffry Ferre, Special Districts practice group leader.

 

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