Sarah E. Owsowitz

Of Counsel

Tel: (925) 977-3308

Location(s)

At a Glance

Sarah serves on the Association of Environmental Professionals Statewide Legislative Committee advising on CEQA legislation.
 
Sarah advises public and private clients on compliance with CEQA and successfully defends against challenges to the adequacy of CEQA documents.
 
Sarah is a recipient of the Daily Journal's Environmental California Lawyer Attorney of the Year Award in 2017.
 

Sarah E. Owsowitz’s practice focuses on California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) advice and litigation, with a particular concentration on large-scale development, renewable energy and water projects, as well as those with significant cultural resource issues. She is of counsel in Best Best & Krieger LLP’s Environmental Law & 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 retail and logistics projects, hospital retrofits and renewable energy projects.
 
Of note, Sarah 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reports and site plans for large-scale grocery stores in Venturans for Responsible Growth v. City of Ventura (2013) [unpublished decision]; Erickson et al. v. City of Clovis (2012) [unpublished decision]; Citizens for Responsible Growth v. City of Bakersfield (2010) [unpublished decision]; and Tracy First v. City of Tracy (2009) 177 Cal.App.4th 912.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 and 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 Association of Environmental Professionals Statewide Legislative Committee advising on CEQA legislation, and the California Special District Association’s Legal Advisory Working Group. In 2017, the Daily Journal recognized her with the prestigious California Lawyer Attorney of the Year Award for Environmental Law. She was included in Super Lawyers Business Edition 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 2013-2017, 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, 2015 and 2016.
 
Prior to joining BB&K, Sarah was with Cox Castle & Nicholson and Morrison & Foerster. Before that, for nearly seven years, she served as deputy city attorney for the City and County of San Francisco. She is admitted to practice law in the State of California.
 
Education

  • University of Minnesota Law School, J.D.
  • University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, M.P.
  • University of Chicago, B.A.

 
 

  • California Lawyer Attorney of the Year, Environmental, 2017
  • Northern California Super Lawyers, Land Use Law, 2013-2017
  • Super Lawyers Top Women Attorneys in Northern California, 2014-2016
  • Northern California Super Lawyers Rising Star, Land Use Law, 2009-2012

 
 
 
 

CEQA Not Preempted in State-Owned Rail Project
Legal Alerts Aug 3, 2017

CEQA Not Preempted in State-Owned Rail Project

California Supreme Court Decision Could Impact High-Speed Rail Project

Lead Agencies Need Not (Necessarily) Consider Governor’s Executive Orders When Analyzing Emissions
Legal Alerts Jul 14, 2017

Lead Agencies Need Not (Necessarily) Consider Governor’s Executive Orders When Analyzing Emissions

California Supreme Court Finding Serves as a Key Victory for Public Agencies

CEQA Review of Cannabis Regulations
Legal Alerts Jun 21, 2017

CEQA Review of Cannabis Regulations

Comment Period Opens on Draft Program Environmental Impact Report of MCRSA and AUMA

Evaluating a Project’s “Exacerbation” on Existing Environmental Hazards
Legal Alerts Nov 10, 2016

Evaluating a Project’s “Exacerbation” on Existing Environmental Hazards

Substantial Evidence Proving “Exacerbation” Required, California Appellate Court Says

New Legislation Seeks to Expedite CEQA Administrative Record Process
Legal Alerts Sep 26, 2016

New Legislation Seeks to Expedite CEQA Administrative Record Process

Provides Opportunity to Streamline Litigation

California Supreme Court Clarifies CEQA’s Subsequent Review Rules and Standard of Review
Legal Alerts Sep 20, 2016

California Supreme Court Clarifies CEQA’s Subsequent Review Rules and Standard of Review

Decision Issued After Years of Uncertainty

Legislature Passes Pair of Significant New Climate Change Bills
Legal Alerts Aug 29, 2016

Legislature Passes Pair of Significant New Climate Change Bills

Gov. Brown Expected to Sign Laws that Will Have CEQA Implications

Air Quality District’s CEQA Thresholds Limited
Legal Alerts Aug 18, 2016

Air Quality District’s CEQA Thresholds Limited

California Appellate Court Weighs in Following State Supreme Court Decision

Sweeping Six-Case Win for Water District
Legal Alerts May 11, 2016

Sweeping Six-Case Win for Water District

Court Upholds Public-Private Groundwater Conservation and Recovery Project That Will Serve Customers Throughout Southern California

California Supreme Court Addresses the “Reverse CEQA” Problem
Legal Alerts Dec 21, 2015

California Supreme Court Addresses the “Reverse CEQA” Problem

CEQA Does Not Require Agencies to Consider the Impact of Existing Conditions on Future Project Users — Except in Certain Circumstances

California Supreme Court Decision Regarding Newhall Ranch Development Could Significantly Impact Developments
Legal Alerts Dec 2, 2015

California Supreme Court Decision Regarding Newhall Ranch Development Could Significantly Impact Developments

California Supreme Court Overturns Environmental Impact Report Related to Proposed Residential Development

EPA Issues New Regulation Governing Air Quality Standards for Ozone
Legal Alerts Oct 13, 2015

EPA Issues New Regulation Governing Air Quality Standards for Ozone

New Standards Could be Costly for California’s Public Agencies

California Governor Signs Legislation Establishing Significant New Energy Goals
Legal Alerts Oct 7, 2015

California Governor Signs Legislation Establishing Significant New Energy Goals

Law Sets Standards Aimed at Addressing Climate Change

Preliminary Discussion Draft of CEQA Guidelines Amendments Released
Legal Alerts Aug 13, 2015

Preliminary Discussion Draft of CEQA Guidelines Amendments Released

Comments Due to Office of Planning and Research by Oct. 12

New CEQA Requirements Take Effect July 1
Authored Articles & Publications Jul 8, 2015

New CEQA Requirements Take Effect July 1

BB&K Attorney Sarah Owsowitz wrote about AB 52 for the California Special Districts Association Blog

California’s Office of Planning and Research Releases Draft Technical Advisory for Formal Native American Consultations Under AB 52
Legal Alerts May 18, 2015

California’s Office of Planning and Research Releases Draft Technical Advisory for Formal Native American Consultations Under AB 52

Comments on the Draft Advisory due by June 1

AB 52: CEQA’s New Perspective on the Environment and Tribal Cultural Resources
Authored Articles & Publications May 15, 2015

AB 52: CEQA’s New Perspective on the Environment and Tribal Cultural Resources

BB&K's Sarah Owsowitz Writes About AB 52 – a Significant Addition to CEQA – in the State Bar of California's Public Law Journal

California Supreme Court Makes Critical CEQA Ruling Regarding Categorical Exemptions
Legal Alerts Mar 3, 2015

California Supreme Court Makes Critical CEQA Ruling Regarding Categorical Exemptions

Court Clarifies the Unusual Circumstances Exception

Authored Articles & Publications Oct 27, 2014

High-Speed Rail Isn't Full Steam Ahead Just Yet

BB&K Attorneys Mrunal Mehta Shah and Sarah Owsowitz Discuss Legal Roadblocks on the Tracks of California's High-Speed Rail Project in the Daily Journal

California Supreme Court Rules Local Governments Are Not Required to Comply With CEQA Before Adopting a Voter-Sponsored Initiative
Legal Alerts Aug 8, 2014

California Supreme Court Rules Local Governments Are Not Required to Comply With CEQA Before Adopting a Voter-Sponsored Initiative

Opinion Clarifies When CEQA Review is Required for Local Land Use Initiatives

Northern California Super Lawyers and Rising Stars 2017
Press Releases Jul 7, 2017

Northern California Super Lawyers and Rising Stars 2017

Congratulations to the Nine BB&K Attorneys on this Year’s Lists

Appellate Court Rejects CEQA Challenges to Development in Santa Ana
Client Successes May 25, 2017

Appellate Court Rejects CEQA Challenges to Development in Santa Ana

BB&K Team Represented City

Event Mar 29, 2017

The New Tribal Consultation Requirement: AB 52

OCAEP/APA

BB&K Environmental Team Wins California Lawyer Attorney of the Year Award
Press Releases Mar 15, 2017

BB&K Environmental Team Wins California Lawyer Attorney of the Year Award

Congratulations to Michelle Ouellette, Sarah Owsowitz and Jennifer Lynch

Event Sep 28, 2016

Practical Approaches for Defensible Cumulative Impacts Analyses Under CEQA

Association of Environmental Professionals - San Francisco Chapter

Event Sep 21, 2016

CEQA Workshops

California Special Districts Association

Event Jul 13, 2016

Legislative Update

Association of Environmental Professionals Lunchtime Seminar

Press Releases Jul 8, 2016

Congratulations to BB&K’s Attorneys on the Northern California Super Lawyers and Rising Stars Lists

Eight Attorneys Recognized for Their Professional Achievements

Event Jun 20, 2016

Tribes and CEQA: New Rules for Tribal Consultation Under AB 52

Law Seminars International

Client Successes May 13, 2016

BB&K Secures CEQA Appellate Victory in Water Project

Six Challenges to Public-Private Partnership Effort Overcome

BB&K In the News May 11, 2016

BB&K Team’s CEQA Appellate Victory in Water Transfer Project

High-Profile Case That Impacts Water Customers Throughout Southern California Discussed in News Reports

BB&K Attorney Sarah Owsowitz Participates in Land Use Roundtable
BB&K In the News Sep 2, 2015

BB&K Attorney Sarah Owsowitz Participates in Land Use Roundtable

California Lawyer Magazine's Annual Discussion Once Again Focuses on CEQA

Press Releases Jul 10, 2015

Six BB&K Attorneys Included on the Northern California Super Lawyers and Super Lawyers Rising Stars List

The Attorneys in the Firm’s Walnut Creek and Sacramento Offices Represent a Cross-Section of Practices

BB&K Event Jun 25, 2015

BB&K Webinar: AB 52: CEQA's New Requirement

11 a.m. - Noon PT | Webinar

Event Jun 12, 2015

The Administrative & Public Environmental Law Conference

The State Bar of California Public and Environmental Law Sections

Event May 21, 2015

Webinar: AB 52’s New CEQA Requirement

State Bar of California Public Law Section

Client Successes Dec 12, 2014

BB&K Attorneys Successfully Defend City Client from Brown Act and Other Claims

Appellate Court Upholds City of Ontario’s Lower Court Victory

Event Oct 1, 2014

Rate Setting Compliance, Social Media in Politics and CEQA

California Special Districts Association

Event Jul 24, 2014

All Things Groundwater: From Local Regulation to CEQA

Northern California County Counsels’ Conference

Press Releases Jul 4, 2014

BB&K Attorneys Recognized as 2014 Northern California Super Lawyers and Rising Stars

Congratulations to These Attorneys

  • “Santa Barbara County Plans for Utility-Scale Solar Projects on Farmland,” California Energy Markets, July 25, 2014
  • “State Trying to Use Defeat to Stymie High-Speed Rail Foes,” Daily Journal, Oct. 9, 2013