Hon. Maria P. Rivera  (Ret.)​
First District Court of Appeal

Land Use / CEQA / Environmental

As an attorney, Justice Rivera specialized in land use law and CEQA, representing both developers and municipalities. Justice Rivera has become well-schooled in all areas of land use, including planning and zoning law, the Subdivision Map Act, the Permit Streamlining Act, development agreements, and the Coastal Act. She is also well versed in takings law, including inverse condemnation claims arising out of regulation and imposition of mitigation measures. 

In the last few years of her practice, Justice Rivera worked primarily on processing the approval of a major development proposal that has since permitted the construction of 11,000 dwelling units. She managed the administrative and hearing process, the legal oversight of the Environmental Impact Report, and the post-approval litigation. She also adjudicated many land use and CEQA matters as an Associate Justice of the California Court of Appeal.

Types of Cases Handled:

• Forest Practices Act
• Polanco Redevelopment Act
• Coastal Act
• Porter Cologne Water Quality Control Act
• Water Quality Control Plans
• CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act)
• Toxic Tort

Representative Cases:

  • Whether the one-time conversion of less than three acres of timber, which would be exempt from environmental review under the Forest Practice Act (and CEQA), is nonetheless not exempt where the preservation of the trees in question was imposed as a mitigation measure in the granting of two previous timber harvest plans.

  • At issue was whether the Coastal Commission could assert jurisdiction to hear an appeal of the approval where a local government approves a project in response to a writ of mandate ordering it to do so, and the Coastal Commission was a party to the writ proceedings.

  • Dispute involving whether defendants, manufacturers of equipment designed to discharge hazardous wastes, could be held liable for the costs of cleaning up the resulting pollution. Liability was disputed because defendants did not directly discharge, or have authority to prevent the discharge of, hazardous wastes onto redevelopment property, or instruct the users of their products to dispose of such wastes in a manner that would create a nuisance.

Published Opinions:

• Heron Bay Homeowners Assn. v. City of San Leandro (2018) 19 Cal.App.5th 376 [CEQA/§1021.5 attorney fees]
• People ex rel. Dept. of Transportation v. Hansen’s Truck Stop, Inc. (2015) 236 Cal.App.4th 178 [eminent domain]
• San Francisco Beautiful v. City and County of San Francisco (2014) 226 Cal.App.4th 1012 [CEQA exemptions]
• Ideal Boat & Camper Storage v. County of Alameda (2012) 208 Cal.App.4th 301 [planning and zoning]
• Healdsburg Citizens for Sustainable Solutions v. City of Healdsburg (2012) 206 Cal.App.4th 988 [attorney fees]
• No Wetlands Landfill Expansion v. County of Marin (2012) 204 Cal.App.4th 1098 [CEQA]
• Oakland Heritage Alliance v. City of Oakland (2011) 195 Cal.App.4th 884 [CEQA]
• Katzeff v. Dept. of Forestry & Fire Protection (2010) 181 Cal.App.4th460 [CEQA/Forest Practices Act]
• Martin v. City and County of San Francisco (2005) 135 Cal.App.4th 392 [CEQA exemptions]
• Salmon Protection & Watershed Network v. County of Marin (2004) 125 Cal.App.4th 1098 [CEQA exemptions]
• Save Our Sunol v. Mission Valley Rock Co. (2004) 124 Cal.App.4th 276 [land use voter initiative]
• Bowman v. City of Berkeley (2004) 122 Cal.App.4th 572 [CEQA]

  • Mediator

  • Arbitrator

  • Discovery Referee

  • Appellate Consultant