Charles “CJ” Higley is a real estate generalist. His practice is focused on real estate development, land use entitlements (a notoriously complex undertaking in the Bay Area), and construction law. With respect to the latter, CJ has a particular expertise in negotiating contracts, ranging from architect’s agreements to the contracts with consultants and contractors that are typical for a development. The projects in which he’s been involved have been equally diverse, including large-scale residential, commercial, industrial, and institutional developments.

Sixteen years of experience have also given CJ an intricate matrix of relationships in the political, administrative, and real estate communities of San Francisco that has inured to the benefit of his clients. City planning staff, the Board of Supervisors, and the larger community find him relatable and pragmatic.  He’s someone they can work with to find common ground, and help move a project forward. CJ's knowledge of the real estate and construction players in San Francisco saves his clients time and money, and improves the odds of success. He knows the issues that are sensitive, and can either avoid or prepare for them, depending on the situation.

The acuteness of the Bay Area housing shortage has altered the process of permitting and obtaining the necessary entitlements for construction projects, particularly for developers engaged in affordable housing projects. The ability to delay, or in some cases, stop a project through a prolonged environmental review process is decreasing, and the political landscape is shifting towards streamlining the process, and sometimes exempting it from environmental review altogether. In this context, an experienced entitlement attorney with relationships throughout the various administrative bodies involved in the development process is invaluable, particularly when augmented by expertise in environmental law. By integrating experience, expertise and the versatility of an attorney who’s been actively engaged in a wide variety of projects, CJ is a significant competitive asset for his real estate and construction clients. 


  • The Legal 500 United States 2016 Land Use / Zoning
  • Northern California Super Lawyers - Rising Stars (2013)
  • Best Lawyers in America in the area of Real Estate Law (2021-2023)

Memberships and Affiliations

  • Housing Policy Board for San Francisco Planning and Urban Research (SPUR)
  • Legislative Committee for San Francisco Housing Action Coalition (SFHAC)
  • Legislative Committee of the Environmental Section of the State Bar of California