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Arthur F. Coon img

Arthur F. Coon

Shareholder, Walnut Creek
Tel: 925.935.9400
Email: arthur.coon@msrlegal.com

Arthur F. Coon

Shareholder, Walnut Creek

Tel: 925.935.9400
Email:

EXPERIENCE

As the Co-Chair of Miller Starr Regalia’s Land Use Practice Group and Chair of its Appellate Practice Group, Art Coon guides clients through a broad range of real property, land use and environmental matters.

Art has distinguished himself as a litigator at the trial and appellate levels of both federal and state courts, including an appearance as counsel of record before the U.S. Supreme Court. His areas of expertise include land use, environmental law, the law of public agencies, extraordinary writs, and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Art also counsels and advocates for clients who have matters in front of administrative bodies.

EDUCATION

J.D., University of California, Davis School of Law (1986)

  • Order of the Coif
  • Law Review Editor
  • Trial Practice Honors Board Member
  • American Jurisprudence Awards Recipient 

B.A., University of Southern California (1982) 

ASSOCIATIONS

  • LEED Accredited Professional
  • U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Northern California Chapter, Diablo East Bay Branch – Founding Member, Former Vice Chair
  • Bay Area Economic Forum's CEQA Work Group – Former Member
  • California Land Use Law and Policy Reporter (Argent Communications) – Former Editor, Current Advisory Board Member 

REPRESENTATIVE LAND USE AND ENVIRONMENTAL MATTERS

  • Borden Ranch Partnership and Tsakopoulos v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, et al., 261 F.3d 810 (9th Cir. 2001); U.S.Supreme Court, Case No. 01-1243. Represented plaintiffs/counterclaim defendants at four week court trial and on appeal to the Ninth Circuit in a major Eastern District federal court action involving application of the Federal Clean Water Act to agricultural activities consisting of “deep ripping” plowing for vineyards and orchards on the Borden Ranch in Sacramento and San Joaquin Counties.  The case involved complex issues of federal agency authority and jurisdiction over seasonal wetlands, including vernal pools and intermittent drainages, as well as “cutting edge” issues under the “Migratory Bird Rule” and the Endangered Species Act.  After 2-1 panel decision reversing adverse judgment on vernal pool issues and remanding for penalty recalculation, but affirming on remaining issues, obtained Writ of Certiorari from United States Supreme Court granting review.  Served as counsel of record in the Supreme Court, which heard argument in the case on December 10, 2002, but deadlocked on a 4-4 vote, with Justice Kennedy not participating.
  • Cummings & Tsakopoulos v. Aerojet General Corporation, et al. Successfully prosecuted and favorably settled a complex federal action in California’s Eastern District representing plaintiff landowners with RCRA, CERCLA and common law trespass, nuisance and negligence claims against Aerojet and others who had since the early 1960’s contaminated the former North White Rock Road Dump in Rancho Cordova with TCE and other toxic pollutants which had migrated in the groundwater underneath plaintiffs’ property.  The case involved approximately 50 depositions, intensive and complex law and motion practice, and mediation prior to favorable settlement.
  • San Diego Gas & Electric Co. v. Superior Court (1996) 13 Cal.4th 893. Briefed matter and appeared and argued on behalf of amicus curiae for real parties before California Supreme Court in landmark decision involving impacts of electromagnetic fields on real property and its value.
  • Napa Citizens for Honest Govt., et al. v. Napa County Board of Supervisors (First Dist., Div. 4, Aug 3, 2001) 91 Cal.App.4th 432. Represented the County of Napa and its Board of Supervisors in a State Superior Court challenge to its certification of an EIR for and enactment of its 1998 Airport Industrial Area Specific Plan Update, a Specific Plan covering approximately 3,000 acres of land in the County’s major industrial area. Successfully demurred to petitioners’ attempted direct challenge to the County’s General Plan, removing that issue entirely from the case.  Represented the County on cross-appeals in the State appellate court, briefing and arguing the appeals for the County, and obtaining a published decision modifying adverse judgment that infeasible mitigation measures could not be deleted under CEQA.  
  • Citizens for Environmental Protection v. Napa County Division of Environmental Health, Upper Valley Disposal Services, Real Party in Interest.  Successfully defended CEQA and California Integrated Waste Management Act legal challenges to Local Enforcement Agent's (LEA) notice and order regarding operation of a grape pumice composting facility.  The LEA issuing the order was the Napa County Division of Environmental Health.  The facility was kept open and operating for benefit of the County (the facility processed a majority of the County's major agricultural waste, grape pumice) during the entire litigation.
  • Tsakopoulos v. American Manufacturers Mutual Ins. Co. Prevailed on behalf of plaintiff insured on cross-motions for summary judgment in federal court action for declaratory relief and breach of contract in CGL insurance coverage dispute.  District court held CGL insurers had duty to defend, and to indemnify for restorative injunctive relief awarded U.S. Government, in underlying action under Federal Clean Water Act (the Borden Ranch case) against insured farmer based on alleged discharges of "pollutants" (i.e., native soil) by his plowing ranch land in areas of seasonal wetlands to plant vineyards.  Case involved complex insurance issues concerning the applicability of the "absolute pollution exclusion" and "as damages" limitation of CGL policies in context of Federal environmental laws.

PUBLICATIONS

Articles:

  • "The Controversy of CEQA Continues: Recent cases are trimming back CEQA's reach.", Western Real Estate Business (October 2012).

Legal Periodicals:

  • “‘CEQA-in-reverse’ case could expand reach of environmental-impact law”, The Recorder, (February 10, 2014) (co-authored with Matthew C. Henderson).
  • “Reform of CEQA is incremental, but thoughtful”, Contra Costa Times and Tri-Valley Herald, (September 2013) (co-authored with Matthew C. Henderson).
  • “Are Courts Actively Limiting CEQA’s Scope In The Absence Of Meaningful Legislation Reform?”, Miller & Starr Real Estate NewsAlert, Vol. 23, No. 3 (January 2013). 
  • “A Matter of Discretion? The Court of Appeal Construes the Map Act’s Lot Line Adjustment Exclusion to Authorize a Ministerial Local Agency Approval Process and to Allow Sequential Adjustments of Lots”, California Land Use Law & Policy Reporter, Vol. 21, No. 11 (September 2012) (co-authored with Matthew C. Henderson). 
  • "Local Matter or Federal Case?  The Network of Cell Tower Regulation in California," Miller & Starr Real Estate NewsAlert, Vol. 21, No. 6 (July 2011) (co-authored with Sean R. Marciniak). 
  • "Back to Basics:  Setting the Environmental Baseline Under the California Environmental Quality Act," California Land Use Law & Policy Reporter (February 2011) (co-authored with Sean R. Marciniak).
  • “When Environmental Review Under the California Environmental Quality Act Becomes “Groundhog Day”: What’s A Frustrated Developer To Do?” Co-authored with Carolyn Nelson Rowan.  Miller & Starr Real Estate Newsalert (Thomson West).
  • “Creditors’ Rights Affected by Bankruptcy Judge” CLTA.org Industry News, January 19, 2010.
  • “Examining SB 375’s Landmark Regional Land Use Planning Scheme: Is The Sacred Cow of Local Land Use Control Now Roadkill?” Vol. 18, No. 2, November 2008 California Land Use Law & Policy Reporter (Argent Communications Group).
  • “When Inconvenient Truths Displace Popular Fictions:  What Proposed SB 375 and The California Legislation Addressing Climate Change Reveal About Local Land Use Planning and Control.”  Vol. 18, No. 4, March 2008, Miller & Starr Real Estate Newsalert (Thomson West).
  • “Thinking Globally When Acting Locally:  How Will CEQA Adapt to A Changing Environment?”  Co-authored with Kristina D. Lawson, Vol. 25, No. 2, 2007, California Real Property Journal, State Bar of California.
  • “Thrice More Into The Breach:  The Supreme Court Takes on Takings in Kelo, San Remo and Lingle.”  Co-authored with Ethan K. Friedman.  Vol. 14, No. 11, August/September 2005, California Land Use Law & Policy Reporter (Argent Communications Group).
  • “A New Era: Punitive Damages Reined In By The United States Constitution”. Co-authored with Edmund L. Regalia. Vol. 15, No. 1, September 2004, Miller & Starr Real Estate Newsalert (Thomson West).
  • “Of Hidden Treasure and ‘Fool’s Gold’: The California Supreme Court Holds Ancient ‘Subdivision’ Maps Do Not Create Legal Lots.” Co-authored with Douglas M. Smith. Vol. 13, No. 5, May 2003, Miller & Starr Real Estate Newsalert (Thomson West).
  • “Is Plowing A Point Source Discharge Of Pollutants? The Aftermath Of Borden Ranch,” Summer 2003 issue, American Bar Association’s Natural Resources & Environment Journal.
  • “Compensation For Regulatory Taking Of Property: How Far Can A Regulation Go Before It Goes ‘Too Far’”? Co-authored with Edmund L. Regalia. Vol. 13, No. 1, September 2002, Miller & Starr Real Estate Newsalert (Thomson West).
  • “Planning Agencies’ Newest Hobgoblin: The Napa Citizens Case Shifts General Plan Vertical Consistency Analysis From ‘Clear Conflict’ To Adequate ‘Implementation’.” Vol. 11, No. 4, December 2001, California Land Use Law & Policy Reporter (Argent Communications Group).
  • “Everybody out of the (Vernal) Pool!? The Army Corps’ Jurisdiction over Isolated Intrastate Waters Dries Up as the U.S. Supreme Court Shoots Down the ‘Migratory Bird Rule’.” Vol. 10, No. 7, March 2001, California Land Use Law & Policy Reporter (Argent Communications Group). Revised and reprinted in Vol. 5, No. 7, May 2001, issue of Western Water Law & Policy Reporter (Argent Communications Group).

Books:

  • Chapters 25, “Subdivisions, Land Use Planning and Approvals,” and 25A, “California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA),” Miller & Starr, California Real Estate, 3d Edition (West 2007), revised and rewritten in 2007.
  • Chapter 25, “Subdivisions”, Miller & Starr, California Real Estate, 3d Edition (West 2001), co-authored with Harry D. Miller.
  • Chapter 30B, “Community Redevelopment”, Miller & Starr, California Real Estate, 3d Edition (West 2004), co-authored with Basil S. Shiber.
  • “From Here To Attorney: The Ultimate Guide to Excelling in Law Schooland Launching Your Legal Career.” (1993 Professional Publications, Inc.) Co-authored with J. Robert Arnett III and Michael Di Geronimo.

Blog:

News / Media:

  • “Calif. Lawmakers To Take On Minimum Wage, CEQA Bills”, Law360, By Erin Coe (August 5, 2013)
  • "Proposed landmark law reform light on details, less sweeping",  Daily Journal, By Fiona Smith (February 26, 2013)
  • “Calif. High Court Could Play Major Role In CEQA Reform”, Law360, By Erin Coe (March 07, 2013)

SPEECHES & PRESENTATIONS

  • Miller Starr Regalia's Annual Land Use Program - Speaker
  • McGeorge School of Law, Adjunct Professor - Land Use Planning, Spring 2002
  • CEB's Annual Recent Developments in Real Property Law Practice - Speaker / Panelist multiple years, Moderator in 2002

AWARDS & RECOGNITION 

  • In addition to being named as a Northern California Super Lawyer for many years, Art has been honored as one of The Best Lawyers in America® 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, in the practice area of Land Use & Zoning Law. He has also been named a “2013 Top Rated Lawyer” for Land Use And Zoning, Energy Law, Environmental Law and Land Use Law by American Lawyer Media and Martindale-Hubbell. Art is also AV-rated by Martindale-Hubbell. Art has also been named as Best Lawyers' 2014 Oakland Land Use & Zoning Law "Lawyer of the Year".