Ryan Leaderman is a partner in the Real Estate, Land Use and Development Practice Group in the firm’s Los Angeles office. His practice focuses on obtaining and negotiating land use entitlements for complex land use planning and mixed-use developments and securing project approvals for all types of major developments in Southern California. He also represents various clients in all aspects of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), including CEQA litigation. Ryan Leaderman possesses extensive experience in guiding high-profile residential, commercial, and mixed-use development projects through the approval process.
Ryan Leaderman specializes in all types of land use permits, including variances and conditional use permits, general plan and zoning amendments and interacts regularly with governmental agencies at all levels. Ryan Leaderman assists developers in complying with CEQA and planning and zoning regulations throughout California, and, in particular, for mixed-used projects in the Downtown Los Angeles area.
Ryan Leaderman’s involvement in a project typically begins with the more traditional aspects of development law. Projects are checked to ensure compliance with local general plans and zoning codes as well as any other relevant regulations such as hillside ordinances. He assists with any variances, general plan amendments, zone changes, conditional use permits, subdivision maps or other entitlements or permits necessary to move a project forward. Ryan Leaderman advises clients with regard to any exaction or dedication requirements governments may impose.
Development regulation today extends beyond zoning and subdivision law. His clients face increasingly complex laws and regulations. Ryan Leaderman and his land use team have successfully navigated projects to completion by balancing the community's concerns with the rights and needs of the client.
Property development is also increasingly confronted with political and no-growth issues. For instance, local groups opposed to development have attempted in the recent past to use initiatives and referenda to defeat projects via “ballot box zoning.” Ryan Leaderman provides legal counsel in this area in order to successfully protect the progress and viability of projects and to secure vested rights to develop. In addition, Ryan Leaderman has success in achieving a conciliatory and constructive tone with anti-growth groups opposed to a project, and has accumulated years of experience in negotiating with community groups and local government entities.
The CEQA process is usually the most daunting step of the California development process, often requiring the preparation of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) or Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) detailing the expected impacts of a project on the environment, and project opponents often litigate under CEQA to halt development. Ryan Leaderman has reviewed and supervised the preparation of many EIRs and possesses extensive experience in CEQA compliance. EIRs are complex documents, containing analyses that cover a wide range of topics. As a result, CEQA compliance involves not only knowledge of CEQA law, but knowledge of the law and science regarding the many different topics that are analyzed in an EIR. For instance, Ryan Leaderman provides counsel with regard to the air quality, noise, and traffic issues that may confront clients and their projects. His knowledge and skills in these legal fields are what makes the difference for his clients.
Additionally, Ryan Leaderman has experience in dealing with water rights and supply issues. Water is a limited commodity in California and certain development projects may rise or fall based upon the ability to establish or obtain an adequate water supply. In addition, the enactment of the Costa Bill (SB 610) and the Kuehl Bill (SB 221) requires most large development projects to establish that there are sufficient quantities of water available to supply the project for the next twenty years. Ryan Leaderman knows how to effectively analyze water rights issues and water supply sufficiency in order to aid the client in the development of the project. This often includes authoring supplementary water supply analyses for inclusion in EIRs in order to correct the errors and omissions that local water agencies and local government routinely commit.
This wealth of land use knowledge is also essential when a transaction requires that an analysis of entitlements and land use issues be performed as part of a deal's due diligence. The ability to develop a property or use it for its intended purpose in many respects is the prime source of its value. It is critical that all the pitfalls and limitations of a property are revealed before a deal is completed, in order to avoid costly false impressions regarding the regulatory limitations of the land. In this vein, Ryan Leaderman has conducted many complicated land use due diligence analyses, some of which involve almost all of the subjects raised above.