Biography

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. 

Distinctions

  • 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 (2021-2024)

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

Firm Highlights

Publication

AB 1633: The Housing Accountability Act

The Housing Accountability Act (HAA) requires local agencies to approve housing projects that meet objective zoning, general plan, subdivision, and design standards unless there is a specific, adverse impact upon public health and safety...

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News

Housing Action Coalition and Farella Braun + Martel File Lawsuit Challenging the City of San Mateo’s Housing Element

Today, the Housing Action Coalition (HAC) and Farella Braun + Martel LLP filed a lawsuit against the City of San Mateo, challenging its recently adopted Housing Element in order to make the city comply with...

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News

San Mateo signed off on its housing element this week. It's already facing a lawsuit.

Farella's Tom Mayhew, CJ Higley, Daniel Contreras, Vanessa Ing, and Alyssa Netto were mentioned in the Daily Journal article "San Mateo signed off on its housing element this week. It's already facing a lawsuit."...

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Publication

California Court Issues First Decision Addressing Builder’s Remedy; Decision on Related Lawsuit Pending

The first California court decision to issue declaratory relief to a developer under the “builder’s remedy” appears to be on the horizon. The builder’s remedy has garnered significant attention over the past two years...

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Publication

Downtown San Francisco Adaptive Reuse Legislation Slated To Go Into Effect

As we alerted you on May 9 , legislation to incentivize office and commercial building conversions to housing had begun working its way through the Board of Supervisors after approval by the San Francisco...

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Publication

San Francisco Board of Supervisors Passes Housing Fee Reform Legislation

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors took the first of two votes to approve housing fee reform legislation last week. The legislation reduces by as much as a third the affordable housing fees and...

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Publication

Housing Fee Reform Legislation

San Francisco officials have introduced a number of new policies they hope will jump start the construction of new housing in San Francisco, which has largely stalled due to high construction costs, rising interest...

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News

Affordable Housing Outlook: What Challenges Will 2024 Pose?

Real estate partner CJ Higley provided expert commentary in the Multi-Housing News article "Affordable Housing Outlook: What Challenges Will 2024 Pose?" The article is available here .

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