Keith Garner is a partner and Practice Group Leader of the Real Estate, Energy, Land Use & Environmental Practice Group in the firm's San Francisco office.

Areas of Practice

Keith's practice focuses on state and federal environmental laws, land use planning and entitlement procedures, and natural resources permitting for large residential, commercial and mixed-use communities and energy generation and transmission projects, including wind and solar facilities. He provides legal and strategic planning advice to clients at every stage of the complex development process, including due diligence for land acquisition, project planning and permitting, regulatory compliance, and land use litigation. He handles a wide range of state and federal regulatory matters, including endangered species, wetlands, water quality and land use issues, environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), National Historic Preservation Act compliance, and public trust issues.

Prior to joining Sheppard Mullin, Keith worked as an urban planner in Boston, Massachusetts, and as a research fellow at the Harvard University Center for Urban Development Studies, where he participated in international development and research projects in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America.



Representative Matters

Project Planning and Permitting:

  • Representing owner/developer in land use entitlement, environmental review, and public trust matters related to redevelopment of a former naval shipyard in the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • Represented developer of 10-building, 305-unit apartment complex in Vista, California in local entitlement and CEQA processes, and natural resources permitting from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and California Regional Water Quality Control Board.
  • Represented developer on wetlands, water quality, and endangered species permitting for 250 MW solar generation project in Imperial County.
  • Represented owners/developers in exchange and boundary line agreements with the State Lands Commission.
  • Represented national e-tailer in land use entitlements for over 150 stores in California.

Due Diligence:

  • Conducted wetlands, endangered species, and cultural resources diligence for over three dozen solar and wind projects in Illinois, Nebraska, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Montana, Idaho, and California.

Litigation and Administrative Enforcement:

  • Represented restaurant owner in enforcement proceedings and permitting before the Bay Conservation and Development Commission.
  • Represented land owner in administrative enforcement actions concerning allegedly unauthorized grading activities brought by County, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and California Regional Water Quality Control Board.
  • Successfully defended developer in federal court against citizen suit challenge to a Stanislaus County development project involving Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, and NEPA claims. Protect Our Water v. Flowers, 377 F.Supp.2d 844 (E.D. Cal. 2004).

Administrative Advocacy:

  • Represented industry association in rulemaking proceedings before the State Water Resources Control Board concerning the adoption of state wetland definition and permitting procedures in 2016, 2017, and 2019.
  • Represented industry associations in rulemaking proceedings before the California Fish and Game Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the state and federal Endangered Species Act.



Lawyers in Real Estate Award, Connect CRE, 2021

Best Lawyers in America, Best Lawyers, 2022-2024

Leading Real Estate Lawyer - California, Connect CRE, 2021

Real Estate and Construction, Legal 500, 2015-2022, 2024

Real Estate - Land Use/Zoning, Legal 500, 2021-2022, 2024

  • Legal 500 Recommended Lawyer 2024



Real Estate, Land Use & Environmental Law Blog Posts

Antitrust Law Blog Posts

Energy Law Blog Posts

Speaking Engagements

  • "Legal Considerations for CGP Compliance: A Review and Projections," Building Industry Association – Southern California, Construction General Permit Renewal Webinar, January 26, 2021
  • "The Challenge of Completing 401 Water Quality Certifications," Building Industry Association – Southern California, Water Quality Certifications Webinar, November 10, 2020
  • "Potential Listing of Quino Checkerspot Butterfly under CESA," Endangered Species Update Webinar, California Building Industry Association, July 21, 2020
  • "Changes in Construction Storm Water Management," California Business Properties Annual Meeting, December 2019
  • "California Wetlands Definition and Permitting Procedures," Webinar, Association of State Wetland Management, October 2019
  • "Trends in retail mixed use projects,” Retail Roundtable Webinar, September 17, 2019
  • "Waters of the State Update" Legal Panel, Bay Planning Coalition, Spring Summit, May 10, 2019
  • "Waters and the State and Waters of the U.S.," Expert Panel Briefing, Bay Planning Coalition, May 7, 2019
  • "Federal Permitting for Development Projects," Select Conference on Industry Litigation, Carmel, CA, July 21, 2018
  • "SWRCB Waters of the State Rulemaking," Select Conference on Industry Litigation, Carmel, CA, November 11, 2017
  • "Evolving Role of State Law in Protection of Streams and Surrounding Resources," California State Bar Northcoast “Your Voice, Your Future” Conference, Eureka, CA, November 3, 2017
  • "Evolving Federal and State Law Topics," CLE International Land Use Law Conference, San Francisco, CA, September 18, 2017
  • "Wetlands Overview: Regulatory and Case Law Update", CLE International California Wetlands Conference, Los Angeles, CA, June 15-16, 2017 (Program Co-Chair)
  • "Wetlands Overview: Regulatory and Case Law Update", CLE International California Wetlands Conference, San Francisco, CA, March 3-4, 2017 (Program Co-Chair)
  • "Wetlands Overview: A Primer", CLE International California Wetlands Conference, San Francisco, CA, April 16-17, 2015 (Program Co-Chair)
  • "Impact of the Endangered Species Act on Development," Lorman Education Services, May 15, 2014
  • "Avoidance and Minimization for Individual Permits," CLE International California Wetlands Conference, San Francisco, California, May 5-6, 2014
  • "Proximate Causation and Geographic Limits," CLE International 9th Annual NEPA Conference, San Francisco California, April 22-23, 2013
  • "The Essentials: The Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, and National Environmental Policy Act," CLE International Endangered Species Act Conference, San Francisco, California, March 7-8, 2013
  • "Environmental Set-Asides and The Whole Parcel Rule," American Planning Association's 2012 National Conference, April 14-17, 2012
  • "Land Use Issues Associate with Sitting Renewable Energy Projects," Imperial Valley Renewable Energy Summit, March 17, 2010
  • "EPA's Rules on Compensatory Mitigation for Impact on Wetlands, Streams, and Other Waters," Lorman Education Services Teleconference, January 19, 2010
  • "Identifying the LEDPA under the Section 404(b)(1) Guidelines," CLE International 2nd Annual California Wetlands SuperConference, Sacramento, California, January 14 and 15, 2008
  • "What is an Endangered or Threatened Species? The California Tiger Salamander Debate," CLE International 6th Annual Conference on the Endangered Species Act • Regulatory and Judicial Developments, Costa Mesa, California, May 16-17, 2005
  • "Emerging Trends in Municipal Governance, Participatory Processes in the Planning and Management of Local Development: Growth Management in Portland, Oregon," Harvard Graduate School of Design, Center for Urban Development Studies, Executive Training Program on Infrastructure and Partnerships for Local Economic Development, Durban, South Africa, August 2002
  • Guest speaker or lecturer on planning and land use issues at Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Stanford University Urban Studies Program, and Golden Gate University School of Law




Member, American Planning Association (Planning and Law Division)

Member, Bay Planning Coalition

Member, California Building Industry Association (Legal Affairs Committee)


J.D., University of California, Berkeley, 2001, Managing Editor, California Law Review, Executive Editor, Ecology Law Quarterly

Master in Urban Planning, Harvard University, 1997, with distinction

B.A., Stanford University, 1993, with honors


  • California (Environmental Law Section)
  • U.S. District Courts for the Northern and Eastern Districts of California
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
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