Stephanie Smith advises clients on the sale, lease, and development of real property in throughout California. She also routinely advises clients on easement and boundary disputes including matters related to drainage, trees, and fences.
After graduating cum laude from Pepperdine Law she honed her legal skills at DLA Piper, a large international law firm. Seeing a need to better understand how local government handles land use projects, Stephanie spent several years working for the office of County Counsel at the County of San Diego where she represented the development services and parks departments working primarily on CEQA and land use related issues for large land use and public development projects.
Noticing an acute need for straightforward and solution oriented CEQA and Land Use counsel on development projects, Stephanie formed the law firm, Grid Legal, where she provides innovative and implementable solutions to business owners, homeowners, and developers.
Stephanie's experience includes:
- Subdivisions: Represented developers in the subdivision of: a commercial property for proposed bank with drive thru; a residential property for a mid-century designed community in Indian Wells including preparation of subdivision documents for DRE submission; and a residential property in San Diego County with biological resources on site.
- Real Estate: Drafted, reviewed, and revised retail, commercial, and residential leases such as the review of a lease for an entertainment venue in San Francisco, the revisions to a retail lease for a restaurant in Ventura County, and the review agreements for an industrial company in the Coachella Valley; drafted and reviewed purchase agreements and disclosures associated with residential sales.
- Coastal: Negotiated with the California Coastal Commission over the appealability of a Coastal Development Permit (CDP) for a residential development.
- Industrial: Represented a bio-fuel manufacturer in Coachella Valley threatened with municipal re-zoning to force existing industrial operations be subject to a city’s conditional use permitting process.
- Renewable Energy: Represented a large wind farm near Palm Springs seeking to preserve land rights in order to expand existing renewable energy operations.
- Commercial Redevelopment: Provided advice for a commercial redevelopment in Point Loma adjacent to Liberty Station including coordination and advice on Airport Land Use Compatibility Plan.
- Neighbor Disputes: Resolved a nuisance related to tree encroachments; represented clients to resolve boundary, easement, and drainage disputes.
- Zoning: Advised a client in a search to procure property for a religious assembly use in San Diego including preparation of feasibility assessments for potential site acquisition and operation; Advised on permitting and feasibility of a new charter school development including use permit processing and CEQA review.
- Ecology: Represented the County of San Diego in the complex restoration for the San Elijo Lagoon including CEQA review; preparation of conservation easements and oversight of the County’s Habitat Conservation Plan (MSCP).
- Policy: Advised on local regulations for Bird Scooters; reviewed environmental and land use related legislation for impacts to businesses in California; and advised the County department of Development Services on the proposed comprehensive renewable energy plan policy and North County MSCP plan.
- Code Enforcement: Represented clients before cities and counties related to alleged code enforcement violations.
- Business: Drafted and reviewed service contract agreements, LLP agreements, and corporate formation documents.
- Agricultural: Advised on development seeking to amend Williamson Act (agricultural) contracts, represented business in the formation of a new vineyards and agave farm.
- Expert Witness: Served as an expert in a matter involving a dispute over the feasibility of redevelopment of property in San Diego.
- Environmental: Coordinate with the Federal Government on Right of Entry Permits and compensation for remediation work.
- Water Rights: Reviewed water rights for several golf courses in Palm Springs.
Memberships, Boards, & Acknowledgments
- Urban Land Institute, Member of the San Diego Small Scale Infill Development Committee (SSID).
- Mission Bay Park Committee, Appointed by San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer.
- San Diego County Bar Association, Member of the Environmental Law, Land Use Law, and Real Property Law Sections.
- San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, Member of the Transportation & Land Development Committee.
- Super Lawyers, Recognized as a Top Rated Land Use & Zoning Attorney in San Diego, CA and as a Rising Star in 2020.
Articles and Speaking Engagements
- Speaker, CREW San Diego, San Diego Development and Planning Update, Oct 29, 2019.
- Visiting Adjunct Professor, USD School of Law, Land Use Regulation, Sept. 12, 2019.
- Author, “Considerations When Using CEQA To Fight Land Use Projects.” Law360, April 11, 2019.
- Speaker, CEQA and Land Use Panel, San Diego County Bar Association, June 27, 2018.
- Author, “A Tree Falls in a Park. Does it Make a Sound? The Adjacent Property Owner Probably Does.” October 20, 2017, Client Alert.
- Author, “Calif. Real Property Transactions May Need CEQA Review.” Law360, October 6, 2017.
Stephanie has a passion for real estate, mid-century design, and modern development. Stephanie also holds a broker's license from the California Bureau of Real Estate. In her free time, Stephanie loves to jog, camp, and travel with her family.
Stephanie graduated cum laude from Pepperdine School of Law where she served as an editor for the Pepperdine Law Review and as a faculty research assistant. She obtained her Bachelor's Degree in International Studies from the University of Washington in Seattle as a Dean's Scholar.