Holland & Knight’s Jennifer Hernandez Named One of California’s Top Lawyers
SAN FRANCISCO (September 17, 2020) – Holland & Knight Partner Jennifer Hernandez has been named one of the Daily Journal's "Top 100 Lawyers in California" for 2020. The publication compiles this list annually to recognize the lawyers in the state who are involved in the most cutting-edge work in litigation, regulation and corporate transactions and have the most impact in the legal industry. Ms. Hernandez was profiled in a special edition of the Daily Journal on September 16.
Ms. Hernandez, who divides her time between Holland & Knight's San Francisco and Los Angeles offices, leads the firm’s West Coast Land Use and Environmental Group. She has achieved national prominence for her work on housing and infrastructure development, climate, brownfields redevelopment, wetlands and endangered species, as well as the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Ms. Hernandez works for private sector, public agency and nonprofit clients on a broad range of projects in Bay Area, Southern California and Central Valley communities. These include infill and master-planned mixed-use housing and commercial projects, university and research facilities, transportation and infrastructure projects, renewable and other energy projects, and local agency plan and ordinance updates.
For almost a decade, Ms. Hernandez has been a leading researcher and advocate on the abuse of CEQA lawsuits to derail critical housing and other projects to achieve economic, racially exclusionary or other non-environmental objectives. She has worked extensively with the prominent civil rights group The 200, and played a leadership role in bipartisan efforts to modernize CEQA to end litigation abuse and integrate this 1970 law with the more than 120 environmental and public health statutory programs enacted in California after 1970. She has also published several seminal articles presenting comprehensive data on CEQA abuse and dysfunction.
The Daily Journal reports that Ms. Hernandez filed a civil rights suit in March 2020 on behalf of a minority advocacy group over new state rules designed to promote housing development near mass transit to limit greenhouse gas emissions. "The California Environmental Quality Act has been hijacked to block housing and cause disproportional harm to California's minority communities," she told the publication. The suit targets what she describes as modern-day redlining that is re-segregating the state.
The Daily Journal also notes that Ms. Hernandez is the lead land use and environmental counsel for Kern County in its regulation of oil and gas production activities. "This is a situation where CEQA can be useful," according to Ms. Hernandez. "Kern had 1950s era zoning ordinances, so we were working to put all kinds of environmental and planning parameters in place." In addition, she is the lead land use, environmental and CEQA litigation counsel for the 240,000 acre Tejon Ranch in the wake of a historic 2008 conservation and land use agreement she helped negotiate. "This is the biggest privately owned property in California. It could have been carved up into big ranches for the wealthy," Ms. Hernandez told the publication. Instead, the environmental groups involved agreed on three large master-planned communities with thousands of new homes, although several lawsuits seeking to block the project are still pending.