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

California's Changing Approach to Housing Policy

Hardly a day goes by without news headlines reminding us that California is in the midst of a severe housing crisis. As with any crisis situation, questions abound. How did we get here? How...

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Publication

A Watershed Moment for Renter Protections

It is tough to recognize when a watershed moment has occurred while one is in "the moment," but it won't take long for many to recognize that California is currently in the midst of one...

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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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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

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

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Publication

San Francisco COPA Program Rules Released

The Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD) released program rules for the Community to Purchase Act (COPA) on September 3, 2019. The recently enacted COPA program (codified in Chapter 41B of the...

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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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Publication

Newly Adopted California Housing Laws - Senate Bill 330 Housing Crisis Act

Ahead of the January 1, 2020 effective date for several housing-related bills recently signed into law by the Governor, we will explain upcoming changes in housing law through a series of updates. Our first...

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Publication

Upcoming Changes to California Housing Laws – AB 1482 Tenant Protection Act

The Governor recently signed into law several housing-related bills adopted during the 2019-2020 state legislative session. At the start of the session, approximately 200 housing-related bills were introduced, mostly from Bay Area legislators. Many of these...

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