Sarah E. Owsowitz

Of Counsel

sarah.owsowitz@bbklaw.com

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 has successfully defended against challenges to the adequacy of environmental impact reports and site plans.

She is a recipient of the Daily Journal’s Environmental California Lawyer Attorney of the Year Award in 2017 and Northern California Super Lawyers Magazine selected her as a “Northern California Super Lawyer” for Land Use Law in 2013-2018.
 

Sarah E. Owsowitz’s practice focuses on California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) advice and litigation, with a particular concentration on large-scale commercial, industrial and residential developments, water projects, as well as those projects with significant cultural resource issues. Sarah represents both public and private clients in administrative proceedings and litigation involving CEQA, as well as state and local planning and zoning laws. She is of counsel in Best Best & Krieger LLP’s Environmental Law & Natural Resources practice group.
 
She is the author of multiple CEQA and land use-related articles and lectures regularly on topics that include current trends in CEQA case law, statutes and guidelines, tribal cultural resources, CEQA and cannabis regulation, administrative records, 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. She is a recipient of the Daily Journal’s Environmental California Lawyer Attorney of the Year Award in 2017. Northern California Super Lawyers Magazine selected her as a “Northern California Super Lawyer” for Land Use Law in 2013-2018, 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. She was also included in Super Lawyers Business Edition for her work in environmental law in 2015.

Prior to joining BB&K, Sarah was with Cox Castle & Nicholson and Morrison & Foerster. Before that, for nearly 7 years, she served as a 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, J.D.
  • University of Minnesota, M.P.
  • University of Chicago, B.A..
Comprehensive Update to the State CEQA Guidelines
Legal Alerts Jan 15, 2019

Comprehensive Update to the State CEQA Guidelines

Approved by California Natural Resources Agency

California Supreme Court Addresses Standard of Review for EIRs and Air Quality Impact Analyses
Legal Alerts Jan 11, 2019

California Supreme Court Addresses Standard of Review for EIRs and Air Quality Impact Analyses

Decision in Sierra Club v. County of Fresno Case

Court Upholds Approval of Superstore Zoning Ordinance
Legal Alerts Aug 27, 2018

Court Upholds Approval of Superstore Zoning Ordinance

California Appellate Court Supports the Broad Use of CEQA Addenda

Proposed “Comprehensive Update” to the State CEQA Guidelines Released
Legal Alerts Dec 01, 2017

Proposed “Comprehensive Update” to the State CEQA Guidelines Released

California Governor’s Office of Planning and Research Proposal Also Addresses SB 743

CEQA Not Preempted in State-Owned Rail Project
Legal Alerts Aug 03, 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 02, 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 07, 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 08, 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 03, 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 08, 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

  • “[PRESENTATION] Planning Legislative Update,” BBKnowledge, Aug. 1, 2016
  • “CEQA Takes Closer Look at Native American Cultural Resources,” BBKnowledge, Aug. 12, 2015
  • “New CEQA Requirements Take Effect July 1,” CSDA Blog, July 8, 2015
  • “OPR Speaks to the Impact of Proposed New CEQA Guidelines,” BBKnowledge, Sept. 16, 2014
  • “California Reacts to Losing the Tesla Battery Factory Project – Is the Lack of CEQA Reform To Blame?,” BBKnowledge, Sept. 8, 2014
  • “Governor Changes His Mind on CEQA Reform,” BBKnowledge, Aug. 18, 2014
  • “Decision: Voter-Sponsored Local Land Use Initiatives Not Subject to Environmental Review,” BBKnowledge, Aug. 11, 2014
  • “California Economic Development Leaders Urge Peer Review of New CEQA Guidelines,” BBKnowledge, July 31, 2014
  • ​“Santa Barbara County Plans for Utility-Scale Solar Projects on Farmland,” California Energy Markets, July 25, 2014
  • “CEQA to Give Cities More Control Over Transit Projects,” BBKnowledge, July 15, 2014
  • “State Trying to Use Defeat to Stymie High-Speed Rail Foes,” Daily Journal, Oct. 9, 2013

Contact Sarah E. Owsowitz