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

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

San Francisco’s HOME-SF Density Bonus Program: Three Key Changes Important to Developers

On July 31, 2018, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors approved changes to the City’s local density bonus program, known as HOME-SF. Introduced by Supervisors Katy Tang and Ahsha Safai, the new ordinance seeks to...

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Publication

Keeping Tabs on Energy Efficiency – New Benchmarking Requirements for San Francisco

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Publication

Accessory Dwelling Units Authorized in New Construction

New legislation passed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors on June 18 now authorizes the addition of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) in new construction projects for single-family homes and multi-family buildings. The City...

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News

The Legal 500 United States 2019 Recognizes Farella Braun + Martel Practices & Attorneys

The 2019 edition of Legal 500 United States recognized Farella Braun + Martel among the top firms in the Construction, Land Use/Zoning, and Not-for-Profit practice areas. Recognized attorneys include: Construction Adam Dawson CJ Higley...

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Publication

Attorney General Finds Impact Fees on Density Bonus Projects Invalid

In response to questions from a variety of cities across the state regarding the application of “public benefit fees” to density bonus projects, the State Attorney General’s Office published an opinion on April 9...

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Publication

California Legislators Tackle Affordable Housing with Flurry of Proposed Bills

The California legislative session is currently underway, and several bills related to housing creation are being considered through the committee hearing process. Legislators representing San Francisco and other Bay Area cities and counties have...

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