• Kristina D. Lawson

    Land, Environment and Natural Resources
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    San Francisco
    Direct: 415.291.7555
    General: 415.291.7400
    Fax: 415.291.7474


    Santa Clara University School of Law, J.D., cum laude, 2002
    Order of the Coif


    University of Arizona, B.A., 1998

    Bar Admissions
    • Profile
    • Representative Matters
    • Honors & Awards
    • Publications
    • Memberships & Activities
    • Speaking Engagements


    Kristina D. Lawson is a partner in the Land, Environment and Natural Resources practice in the San Francisco office. Recognized in January 2014 by the Daily Journal as one of the top 20 attorneys in California under age 40, Kristina is a sought-after expert in complex California entitlement, land use, and municipal law and policy matters. From the interpretation and application of local General Plans, specific plans, zoning ordinances, and the Subdivision Map Act, to local land use initiatives and referenda, to state and federal natural resources, air, and water law, her wide-ranging expertise adds significant value to land use projects throughout the state.

    Kristina is an expert in California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) compliance and strategy, and is an active participant in statewide CEQA modernization efforts. Kristina represents clients in local, state, and federal administrative and judicial proceedings throughout California, with an emphasis on the Greater San Francisco Bay Area and California’s Central Valley.

    Keenly attuned to the role politics plays in California’s land use entitlement process, Kristina brings a wealth of government relations experience and top-notch political acumen to all of her engagements. In addition to her land use practice, Kristina often advises clients on public policy and government relations strategy.

    In addition to her professional work, Kristina is a former local elected official. From 2010–2014, Kristina served on the City Council and as the Mayor of the City of Walnut Creek. Kristina also previously served on the Central Contra Costa Solid Waste Authority Board of Directors, on ABAG's Regional Planning Committee, and as the Vice Chair of the League of California Cities' Environmental Quality Policy Committee.

    Kristina is an active member of the Bay Area Council and Urban Land Institute and is a frequent author and speaker on land use and environmental law topics.

    Representative Matters

    Honors & Awards

    Top 50 Development, Land Use and Municipal Infrastructure Lawyers, Daily Journal, 2014.

    Daily Journal, “Top 20 Under 40,” 2014.

    The Recorder, “50 Lawyers on the Fast Track,” 2012.

    San Francisco Business Times, "40 Under 40," 2012.

    Northern California Real Estate Women of Influence, “Rising Star,” 2011.

    Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network, “20 Under 40,” 2010.

    Northern California Super Lawyers magazine, “Rising Star,” 2010–2012..


    Author, “The End of the Road for LOS Analysis of Traffic Impacts,” Environmental Leader, March 21, 2016.

    Author, “California Cities Have Widely Variable Response to Housing Crisis,” Multi-Housing News, February 29, 2016.

    Author, “The Housing Debate Heats up in California,” Western Real Estate Business, February 2016.

    Quoted, “CA Supreme Court Reverses Decision To Broaden CEQA,” Bisnow, January 6, 2016.

    Quoted, “Calif. Real Estate Legislation & Regulation To Watch In 2016,” Law360, January 4, 2016.

    Quoted, “Court puts kibosh on CEQA expansion,” San Diego Union Tribune, December 23, 2015.

    Quoted, “State high court rules on scope of principle enviro law,” Greenwire, December 18, 2015.

    Quoted, “State Supreme Court sets limits on the reach of CEQA in unanimous ruling,” Daily Journal, December 18, 2015.

    Quoted, “State high court backs developers in environmental case,” Sacramento Business Journal, December 18, 2015.

    Quoted, “Airbnb Initiative Could Spur More Suits In San Francisco,” Law360, October 30, 2015.

    Author, “California Legislature Debating 2015 Climate Leadership Legislation,” Environmental Leader, March 18, 2015.

    Author, “Reform CEQA to help live with drought,San Francisco Chronicle, January 23, 2015.

    Co-author, “California’s New Energy Efficiency Challenge,” GlobeSt.com, January 22, 2015.

    Author, “California Proposes Overhaul of Standards for Transportation-related Environmental Impact Analysis,” Environmental Leader, August 25, 2014.

    Co-author, “Making Wine out of Water,” GlobeSt.com, April 28, 2014.

    “Regional Regulators Turn up the Heat,” Western Real Estate Business magazine, April 2012.

    “Contemporary Zoning Conflicts – An Evolving Landscape Presents New Challengess.” Commercial Investment Real Estate magazine, January/February 2012.

    “Supreme Court Upholds Dissolution of Redevelopment Agencies and Invalidates ‘Pay to Play’ Option,” Manatt Real Estate & Land Use Newsletter, December 29, 2011.

    “Court Rejects the Need for CEQA Analysis of Sea Level Rise and Invalidates CEQA Guideline,” Manatt Real Estate & Land Use Newsletter, December 6, 2011.

    “Churches and Property: Understanding the Land Use Component of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act,” Miller & Starr Real Estate Newsalert, Vol. 22, No. 1, September 2011.

    “The Rise of the Responsible Agencies – CEQA Compliance in a Regional Focused Environment,” Environmental Liability and Enforcement Reporter, April 2011.

    “Another Agency to Rain on Your Parade,” San Francisco Daily Journal, May 6, 2010.

    “Women in Commercial Real Estate,” CREW Network Publication with the CREW Network Industry Research Committee, 2010.

    “Glass Ceiling or Sticky Floor, The State of Women’s Advancement in Commercial Real Estate,” CREW Network Publication with the CREW Network Industry Research Committee, 2009.

    “Buyer Beware,” Commercial Investment Real Estate magazine, May/June 2009.

    “Back to Basics Due Diligence: Ensuring Use and Minimizing Risk,” California Real Estate Journal, May 11, 2009.

    “Repositioning Your Real Estate Career to Succeed in an Era of Change,” CREW Network Publication with the CREW Network Industry Research Committee, 2008.

    “CEQA’s Neverending Story – Post-Entitlement Enforcement of Mitigation Measures,” California Land Use Law and Policy Reporter, June 2008.

    “Prohibiting Big Macs and Rollbacks: California’s Ever-Expanding Regulation of Retail End-Users,” California Land Use Law and Policy Reporter, December 2007.

    “Climate Change: New Impact Laws Affecting Development Projects,” BUILDERnews magazine, July 2007.

    “Thinking Globally When Acting Locally: How Will CEQA Adapt to a Changing Environment?” California Real Property Journal, Vol. 25, No. 2, 2007.

    “Troubled Waters: The Supreme Court Splits on Scope of Wetlands Regulation,” Miller & Starr Real Estate Newsalert, Vol. 17, No. 1, September 2006.

    “‘Rapanos’ Wetlands Decision Doesn’t Void State Regulations,” San Francisco Daily Journal, July 18, 2006.

    “Settling With Certainty – California Courts of Appeal Grapple With Challenges to the Settlement of Land Use Litigation,” California Land Use Law and Policy Reporter, April 2006.

    “Legislating a Density Bonus to Boost Affordable Housing,” San Francisco Daily Journal, September 15, 2005.

    “Cases Prove Need to Follow CEQA Requirements,” San Francisco Daily Journal, May 6, 2004.

    Memberships & Activities

    Member, Medical Board of California.

    Member, Bay Area Council CEQA Reform Task Force.

    Member, Contra Costa Council Land Use Task Force.

    Contributing Editor, Environmental Liability, Enforcement & Penalties Reporter, 2008–2009.

    Contributing Editor, California Water Law and Policy Reporter, 2008–2009.

    Contributing Editor, California Land Use Law and Policy Reporter, 2005–2008.

    Board of Directors, East Bay Commercial Real Estate Women, 2006–2011.

    Member, State Bar of California (Public Law, Environmental Law, and Legislative Committee of Environmental Law Sections).

    Member, Contra Costa County Bar Association.

    Member, American Bar Association (State and Local Government, and Environmental and Natural Resources Sections).

    Speaking Engagements

    “Affordable Housing and Economic Vitality: What Are the Linkages? And What Are the Paths Forward in the Bay Area?,” Bay Area Council Economic Institute Breakfast Event, San Francisco, California, November 14, 2014.
    East Bay CREW Luncheon Meeting, "The Impacts of the Dissolution of Redevelopment Agencies in California - What Does This Mean for Real Estate in California?" March 15, 2012.

    Manatt Briefing, "The Future of Redevelopment in California," January 5 & 6, 2012.

    Association of Environmental Professionals/Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, "Bicycle Plans, Road Diets, and CEQA," November 28, 2011.

    "Local, County and Federal Update on the Status of Public Policy on Business and Commercial Real Estate," East Bay Commercial Real Estate Women Luncheon Meeting, February 2011.

    "Developing Opportunities," Miller Starr Regalia Land Use Breakfast Update, January 2011.

    "CEQA & Climate Change," California Water Law & Policy Conference, April 2010.

    "From Formula Businesses to Drive-Thrus to Docs-in-a-Box: Permitting Special Uses and Services in Today's Complex Regulatory Environment," ICSC Law Conference Roundtable, October 2008.

    "Permitting Your Project: Basics of Bay Area Entitlement Processing," East Bay Commercial Real Estate Women Brown Bag Series, July 2008.

    "Real Estate Development From Beginning to End," Lorman Education Services, February 2008.

    "Air Quality, Water and Smart Growth," San Joaquin Valley Housing Symposium, January 2008.

    "Update on Laws Addressing Climate Change and Their Impact on the Industrial and Development Sectors," Contra Costa Council Industrial and Environmental Task Force, August 2007.