Michele A. Staples represents a broad spectrum of clients from publicly traded companies to individuals in land use, project entitlement, water resources and environmental matters.
Ms. Staples has over 30 years of water law experience securing and protecting private and public water rights throughout the State for agricultural businesses, developers, and public and private water suppliers . She serves as lead counsel to a consortium of Borrego Valley farmers in east San Diego County and represented them in negotiating California’s first-ever combined water rights settlement agreement/basin management plan under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. The successful resolution avoided years of costly and time-consuming contested litigation and provided the agricultural sector a seat on the governing board in groundwater management decision-making for the Borrego Springs Groundwater Basin, the sole source of water for the community.
Ms. Staples is frequently engaged by developers, landowners and water suppliers to provide legal counsel for environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act. She has extensive experience preparing, defending and commenting on CEQA documents for residential, commercial, mixed use and public infrastructure project entitlements and approvals. She has negotiated several mitigation agreements to protect clients’ land and water supplies from adverse impacts of adjoining projects.
Ms. Staples is regularly asked to conduct diligence investigations on behalf of developers for acquisition of property and projects, secure land use entitlements for commercial, residential and mixed use projects, obtain permits and approvals to revamp development projects to respond to changing market conditions, and resolve high-profile disputes involving development and use of land, natural resources and water supplies.
Ms. Staples is dedicated to legal and professional education. She regularly authors articles published in legal and trade journals, and serves on the Advisory Board of the California Water Law & Policy Reporter. Recognized as a leading California water and land use lawyer, Ms. Staples frequently speaks on emerging water law, endangered species, land use and environmental compliance matters at professional meetings and continuing legal education conferences. She served as an Adjunct Professor of Water Law at Chapman University School of Law for six years.
Ms. Staples is active in the community. In 2015, the California Senate honored Ms. Staples with a Certificate of Recognition for her fifteen years of service to the Meals-On-Wheels North San Diego County Service Center where she continues to volunteer.
Ms. Staples holds an “A/V Preeminent Peer Review Rating”, the highest honor from Martindale-Hubbell for professional excellence in legal expertise, communication skills, and ethical standards.
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