LFAP Attorney Announcement

LFAP is pleased to announce the addition of an associate to the firm:

Catherine Ferguson

Ms. Ferguson practices in the areas of Land Use, Environmental, Real Property, Municipal Law, and Civil Litigation. Her practice includes project entitlement, real property purchase and sale agreements, environmental review under CEQA, stormwater regulation and compliance, and property and contract disputes. Ms. Ferguson joined the firm as a contract attorney in January of 2017 and became a full associate in July of 2018. Prior to graduating from University of San Diego School of Law, Ms. Ferguson interned at the Oceanside and San Diego City Attorney’s Offices, and San Diego Coastkeeper. Ms. Ferguson is a member of the San Diego County Bar Association and Real Property Law Section of the CLA.


The attorneys of Lounsbery Ferguson Altona & Peak LLP have served the specialized legal needs of businesses, individuals, and public agencies for more than three decades. LFAP is committed to providing client satisfaction through efficient personal service and finding creative, cost-effective solutions. For more information, please visit our website.

Ruling Maintains Funding of Essential Services

The Affordable Housing Coalition v. Sandoval, Sacramento Superior Court No. 34-2012-80001158-CU-WM-GDS

After four years of litigation, Sacramento Superior Court issued a ruling allowing property taxes formerly allocated to redevelopment agencies, to continue to fund schools, fire protection and other core local government functions after legislation dissolved redevelopment agencies across the state. On September 26, 2016, in a matter arising from the dissolution of redevelopment, the Honorable Judge Kenny denied the Affordable Housing Coalition of San Diego County’s Second Amended Petition for Writ of Mandate and Complaint for Declaratory Relief.

The Coalition’s Petition named almost all of the taxing entities in San Diego County, including Cities, Successor Agencies and Districts, as a Respondent or Real Party in Interest.  The Coalition contended that despite the dissolution of redevelopment agencies and elimination of their funding, the redevelopment agencies’ affordable housing obligations continued on as enforceable obligations of Successor Agencies, formed to facilitate the redevelopment agencies’ dissolution. The Coalition further alleged that the Successor Agencies failed to comply with these obligations.  The remedy pursued by the Coalition would have resulted in the diversion of property tax funds from schools and other core services to which those funds were allocated post dissolution. In May 2015, the Court bifurcated the action to first determine the merits of the Coalition’s legal contentions before addressing its factual contentions.   After oral argument and further consideration, the Court issued a detailed 22-page Ruling, denying the Coalition’s legal claims for lack of merit. The Court further determined that it was not required to decide the Coalition’s factual claims to deny the Petition and Complaint in its entirety.

Lounsbery Ferguson Altona & Peak defended this action on behalf of multiple public entities, taking the lead in briefing and arguing the legal issues.  James Lough and Alena Shamos represented the Lemon Grove entities, and also specially appeared on behalf of several of Successor Agencies and Cities in defending against the Coalition’s claims.

New Rule on Adding Conditions After Map Approval

From a recent case Tarbet v. East Bay Municipal Utility District (2015), it is clear now that property owners cannot rely on the Subdivision Map Act to shield them from additional requirements by third party service providers other than local agencies.

In Tarbet, after the County of Alameda accepted and approved Gregory Tarbet’s parcel map, Mr. Tarbet applied to the water district for water service to his property.  The water district requested an easement on Mr. Tarbet’s property for installation and maintenance of the pipeline.  Mr. Tarbet refused to grant an easement and filed suit against the water district, claiming that the approval of the map gave him a vested right and precluded the water district from imposing conditions it had not imposed prior to the county’s approval of the map.

Under the Subdivision Map Act, approval of the vesting tentative map entitles the developer to proceed with the project in substantial compliance with the ordinances and polices in effect when the map application was complete.  The Subdivision Map Act limits what local agencies can require from property owners once the map is approved.  But under the Act, local agency means a city and/or county.  The County of Alameda, and not the water district, acted as the local agency when it approved Mr. Tarbet’s map.  In addition, the Subdivision Map Act expressly states that nothing in the Act “shall be construed to create a right or entitlement to water service.”  Lastly, the Act applies to the initial design of a subdivision, and does not deprive a water district of control over the final design of its water delivery system.  Thus the water district was under no duty to acquire an easement on the property at the time the map was approved.

Take away: The approval of the map does not entitle property owners to automatically receive all the services on their property.  When planning the development of their properties, it is paramount for property owners to take into consideration any additional conditions that third party service providers may impose after the map is approved.

Yana Ridge advises clients on land transactions and development, municipal law, and real property.  Her transactional practiceYanaCasualincludes preparation of cost sharing agreements, easement agreements, purchase and sale agreements, CC&Rs and leases.   Her public practice includes the initiative petition process and public agency legislation.


LFAP Celebrates 20 Years of Service To Its Clients

On March 15th this firm marked its 20th anniversary.  Although we’ve doubled in size from eight to sixteen attorneys, we continue to serve many of the same clients who started with us in 1996.  In fact, we have personally served some of our clients for nearly 40 years.  It is this loyalty of our clients that has made our success possible.  We are only as good as the people whom we help, so we would like to take this opportunity to tell you how much your association with us is appreciated. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you; we look forward to the next twenty years.