Robert Smith | Partner

P: (206) 436-0615 |  | download bio

Robert has a strong background in environmental law, land use and real estate development. He has counseled clients regarding the California Environmental Quality Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the California Coastal Act, the Subdivision Map Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Washington Shoreline Management Act, the Washington State Environmental Policy Act, and other land use and zoning regulations. Robert’s experience includes representing clients in the shellfish industry in Washington and California to secure both federal and state permits, including the first shellfish farm permitted in federal waters in the United States.  Robert also currently represents several shellfish clients in negotiations with Native American Tribes concerning shellfish rights and harvest agreements, including representing shellfish growers involved in dispute resolution with the Tribes concerning the Shellfish Settlement Agreement and associated Tribal rights to shellfish in Washington State. 

Robert’s prior land use and environmental experience included representing public and private clients in a variety of land use and litigation matters, including playing an integral role in obtaining entitlements for L.A. Live in Los Angeles and a proposed National Football League stadium. Robert’s prior litigation experience includes assisting clients in all aspects of mediation and settlement of CEQA, NEPA, zoning and land use claims. Robert also has experience representing public municipalities and agencies on land use and environmental matters, including previously serving as Assistant City Attorney for two Southern California cities. Robert has also served on several task forces, including the California Shellfish Initiative steering committee, the City of Los Angeles Historic Preservation Ordinance Working Group, and Los Angeles Sign Ordinance Task Force.

Robert grew up in the Greater Seattle Area and is a diehard Seattle Seahawks fan.

Judicial Intern, Honorable Arthur Alarcon, U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
J.D., UCLA School of Law, 2005
   Journal of Environmental Law and Policy, 2002 – 2004
   Staff Member & Moot Court Member
Law Clerk, Department of Justice
   Environmental and Natural Resources Division, D.C., 2003
Legal Extern, Department of Justice, Environmental and Natural Resources Division, D.C., 2003
B.A., Northwestern University, 2001

Court Admissions
Washington, D.C.
U.S. District Court, Central District of California

Publications & Presentations
Opportunities and Challenges in Permitting Offshore Shellfish Aquaculture, California Aquaculture Law Symposium, UCLA School of Law, Los Angeles, CA, March 13, 2015.

Regulatory Barriers and Opportunities: Opportunities and Challenges in Permitting Offshore Shellfish Aquaculture, Aquaculture America 2015, New Orleans, LA, February 19 – 22, 2015.

An Overview of Aquaculture Permitting in California, Oregon and Washington, Panel Member & Speaker, 67th Annual Shellfish Conference and Tradeshow, Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association (PCSGA) and National Shellfisheries Association (NSA) – Pacific Coast Section, Sunriver, OR, September 30 – October 3, 2013.

Employment History
Partner, Plauché & Carr, LLP.   Providing legal analysis on a variety of land use and environmental law issues concerning coastal regions.  Serves as counsel for several clients in the shellfish industry in Washington and California and assists clients in negotiating and receiving state and federal regulatory permits for new and expanded shellfish farms, including consulting regarding CEQA and NEPA review and associated environmental issues. Represents clients before the California Coastal Commission and Washington State Shoreline Hearings Board. Drafts and negotiates real estate leases and purchase and sale agreements on behalf of Washington and California clients for state and/or privately held tidelands and associated upland areas. Primary legal consultant on the California Shellfish Initiative to responsibly expand shellfish production in the State of California.  Represents several shellfish clients in negotiations with Native American Tribes, including acting as lead counsel for the Puget Sound Shellfish Growers Legal Defense Fund in federal dispute resolution against several Native American Tribes concerning Tribal Treaty rights under the Boldt decision. (2013 – Present)

Land use/Municipal Law Associate, Jenkins & Hogin LLP.   Assistant City Attorney providing legal analysis on a variety of municipal law issues including environmental law, land use, and real estate for the Cities of Palos Verdes Estates and Monterey Park. Represented clients in state court in writ and general civil proceedings concerning CEQA, environmental law, affordable housing, and Coastal Act issues. Drafted complaints alleging nuisance and municipal code violations and engaged in negotiations to settle code enforcement disputes. Advised municipalities and redevelopment agencies concerning proposed entitlements, real estate transactions, and CEQA and NEPA environmental review. Negotiated transactional agreements associated with proposed developments, including development agreements, specific plans, zone changes, purchase and sale agreements, leases and easements. Advised clients at various public hearings, including providing legal counsel for Planning Commissions and City Councils. (2011 – 2013)

Land Use Associate, Latham & Watkins LLP.   Broad-based land use experience with specialization in entitlements and litigation. Extensive experience in complex settlement agreements and mediation. Represented major developments in multiple Southern California jurisdictions in processing entitlements and associated environmental review. (2005-2010)

Transactional: Drafted and processed complex entitlement applications, including specific plans, development agreements, tract maps, project permit compliance reviews, conditional use permits, easements, street vacations, development agreements, alcohol and signage entitlements, and related environmental review. Engaged in community outreach and negotiation with community groups, approving agencies, and other state and local agencies. Represented clients during public hearings with approving local agencies. Drafted and negotiated state legislation to exempt projects from certain state laws, including CEQA. Coordinated various groups in lobby efforts concerning changes to state and local legislation. Assisted in planning strategy to defeat referendum effort. Drafted legal analysis regarding state and local signage regulations, Administrative Procedure Act compliance, and various other due diligence matters. Prepared due diligence and strategies for approval of required project entitlements.

Litigation: Drafted and negotiated settlement agreements with opposing cities and community organizations. Drafted mediation briefs and supporting documents. Assisted in drafting motions for demurrer, summary judgment, trial briefs, and reply motions. Drafted legal analysis of potential litigation strategies.

Representative matters have included the following:

  • Served as primary associate on numerous complex matters related to the L.A. LIVE development, such as drafting of entitlement applications, negotiation with community groups, development of expressive activity rules, and representation of AEG in its dispute with the City of Los Angeles regarding proposed L.A. LIVE signage.
  • Sole associate involved in representation of Majestic Realty regarding matters related to its NFL stadium project, including representation of client in public meetings and mediation proceedings.
  • Representation of several clients on matters related to the proposed changes to the City of Los Angeles Signage Ordinance and Historical Preservation Ordinance.