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Real Property Law

Cal. Real. Prop. Journal 2019, VOL. 37, NO. 2

Resolving Conflicts Through Collaborative Land Use Easements

Geoffrey C. Etnire

Geoff Etnire is Counsel at Venable LLP and is based in the San Francisco and Washington, DC offices. Geoff has over 30 years of experience working within the regulatory overlay on real estate in California and across the country in his representation of developers, landowners, investors, lenders, and mining companies. Geoff focuses on those matters where regulatory approvals and clearances are needed for development, infrastructure, environmental matters, economic development, and changes in use. Geoff regularly performs regulatory due diligence for investors, capital partners and lenders.

With the severe shortage of housing in California’s urban and suburban areas, communities are seeking to expand the supply of housing by allowing residential development closer to existing industrial, mining, rail, and other existing non-residential uses. The existing users often strongly oppose nearby residential development and frequently defeat or severely limit the proposals. New housing that does get built near existing uses often produces years of intractable conflict, resulting in costly and time-consuming political and legal battles.

The challenge for California real estate lawyers is to help parties find strategies that allow more housing, while protecting the existing uses. Practitioners understand that, contrary to the trope that the three most important things in real estate are "location, location, location,"1 the three most important things in real estate are "location, entitlements, and timing." All three of these factors are at play when a new housing proposal potentially conflicts with existing uses.

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