Scott C. Smith


Tel: (949) 263-6561


At a Glance

Scott's municipal, land use, and environmental law practice includes work on large-scale entitlement and development agreements.
He serves as city attorney for the cities of San Clemente and Aliso Viejo and general counsel to the Santa Margarita Water District.
The Daily Journal named Scott one of California’s top 25 land use attorneys in 2014.

Scott C. Smith has called Best Best & Krieger LLP home since law school graduation. His municipal, land use, and environmental law practice includes work on large-scale entitlement and development agreements, growth management initiatives, project permitting, local agency formation (LAFCO), and land use initiatives. As a partner in the firm’s Municipal Law practice group, he grew up in the firm’s Riverside office before helping to open BB&K offices in San Diego and Orange County. The Los Angeles Daily Journal named Scott one of California’s top 25 land use attorneys.
Scott’s principal clients include the cities of San Clemente and Aliso Viejo, where he serves as city attorney. He also served as city attorney in Lake Forest, Santee, La Verne, and Big Bear Lake, and provided city attorney services, either as general or special counsel, to the cities of Yorba Linda, Claremont, Corona, La Verne, Fontana and Vista. He is general counsel to the Santa Margarita Water District. He serves as general counsel to Orange County and Marin Local Agency Formation Commissions and as special counsel to other LAFCOs.
Scott enjoys working on complex real estate and regulatory matters, usually for public agencies. He coordinates BB&K’s service teams to acquire and consolidate real estate, review environmental impacts, obtain state and federal permits and licenses, assure water availability and meet affordable housing goals. BB&K has quadrupled in size since Scott started, and he played a key part in building the firm’s bench in important areas of public agency representation. His approach is to work collaboratively and constructively as he coordinates these firm resources for clients.
Illustrations of some of Scott’s most significant projects include:

  • Master plans and development agreements – work with the City of Lake Forest to prepare, negotiate, and finalize development agreements for the Opportunities Study, a comprehensive planning process to rezone nearly 838 acres to create and vest residential, retail, commercial, school, government, and park uses, with landowner/developers providing approximately $200 million in city facilities.
  • Election law – special counsel to Los Angeles County in developing special legislation and County enactments for a special tax to address homelessness. He also advises the firm’s city clients on issues relating to growth management initiatives.
  • Local agency formation – representation of Orange County LAFCO in review of several cityhood applications and pre-annexation/development agreements for Newport Coast (Newport Beach), Talega (San Clemente), Tonner Hills (Brea), Bolsa Chica and Sunset Beach (Huntington Beach).
  • Land use regulation – advise clients on the regulation of sensitive land uses, including vacation rentals, sober living homes, and retail marijuana dispensaries. Work on various general plans and housing element certifications.
  • Retail and commercial uses – work to assist clients on retention of retail uses and revitalization of aging commercial centers.

Scott served as President of the Orange County City Attorneys Association in 2016 and serves on the California State Bar Public Law Section’s Executive Committee. He is co-editor in chief of the State Bar’s Public Law Journal.
Scott served for 10 years as general counsel to the California Chapter of the American Planning Association and trained new planners for that organization. He presented papers to the International Municipal Lawyers Association on billboard abatement, transfer of development rights, the California Environmental Quality Act, and procedural due process. Scott served as a land use and environmental law instructor for the University of California, San Diego Extension and University of California, Los Angeles Extension courses. He regularly presents ethics training to public officials.
He lives in San Clemente where he and his wife, Wendy, raise their three sons and a daughter. He is admitted to practice law in the State of California.

  • Brigham Young University Law School, J.D.
  • Utah State University, B.A., political science, valedictorian


  • Daily Journal Top 50 Development Attorney in California, 2014
  • California State Bar Public Law Section Executive Committee
  • Orange County City Attorneys Association, president, 2016
  • California Chapter of the American Planning Association, former general counsel
  • Solana Beach School District Board of Education, former member
  • City of San Clemente’s Coastal Advisory Committee, served two terms
Billboard Regulations: Cities and Counties
Legal Alerts Nov 8, 2016

Billboard Regulations: Cities and Counties

No State Preemption of Local Billboard Regulations, California Appellate Court Finds

Authored Articles & Publications Oct 14, 2014

To Campaign or Not to Campaign: A Refresher

BB&K Attorneys Scott Smith and Matthew "Mal" Richardson Write in PublicCEO How Improper Use of Public Funds During Campaign Season Can Run Public Agencies or Their Employees Afoul of the Law

  • “Cash Crop: Local Government Taxation of Marijuana Business," State Bar of California Public Law Journal, winter 2017
  • “Prop. 8 Ruling Complicates Process For California Initiative Proponents,” BB&K Legal Alert, July 8, 2013
  • “Ninth Circuit Upholds Opening Prayers at City Council Meetings,” BB&K Legal Alert, April 1, 2013
  • “FPPC Approves Amendment Clarifying Appointments to Paid Positions,” BB&K Legal Alert, March 16, 2012
  • “Court of Appeal Reverses Lower Court Decision to Close Medical Marijuana Stores in Lake Forest,” BB&K Legal Alert, March 1, 2012


  • “Fight Between Rehab Facilities and Cities Felt Across Orange County,” Orange County Register, Oct. 22, 2015