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

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

San Francisco’s Downtown: What Does the Future Hold?

Farella's CJ Higley with guest speakers, Marc Babsin with Emerald Fund, Jim Hakes with Handel Architects, Sujata Srivastava with SPUR, and Anne Taupier with San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development, discuss "San...

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News

Farella Lawyers Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America® 2024 Edition

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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 Planning Commission Endorses Ordinances to Incentivize Adaptive Reuse in Downtown

The San Francisco Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval on May 4 of two ordinances aimed at revitalizing the City’s Downtown, South of Market Street, and Union Square districts. Vacant Office and Commercial Building Conversion...

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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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Publication

Office-to-Housing Conversion: State and Local Efforts to Revitalize the Downtown

Originally published in The Registry . As office vacancies soar in traditional downtown areas like San Francisco’s Financial District, state and local officials are moving quickly to adopt incentives they hope will bring people...

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Publication

Office-to-Housing Conversion: Legislation – California’s Next Frontier

In an effort to spur the conversion of office-to-housing as one way to revitalize California’s struggling urban downtown areas, Assemblyman (and former San Francisco Supervisor) Matt Haney has introduced AB 1532, dubbed the “Office...

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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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