Chelsea Maclean is a California attorney in Holland & Knight's West Coast Land Use and Environment Practice Group who counsels clients on all aspects of land use development.

Ms. Maclean conducts due diligence for the acquisition, disposition and leasing of property. She regularly advises institutional investors, lenders, developers, landowners, lessees and lessors, and governmental entities with regard to land use restrictions and agreements, as well as entitlement processing and permitting requirements. With extensive experience developing plans that minimize legal, political and business risks for her clients, Ms. Maclean drafts and negotiates transactional agreements to effectuate coordinated strategies. She prepares development agreements, assignment and assumption agreements, affordable housing agreements, easement agreements, improvement agreements, service agreements and maintenance agreements, in addition to providing land use assistance on purchase and sale agreements, leases and other real estate agreements.

Clients throughout California call on Ms. Maclean for assistance in obtaining general plan, zoning, use permit, variance and other entitlement approvals and permits on the West Coast. Ms. Maclean counsels on all aspects of regulatory compliance under federal, state and local laws, with a particular concentration on the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), Planning Law, Subdivision Map Act, State Density Bonus Law, and housing laws such as the Housing Accountability Act, SB 330, SB 35 and AB 2162. Specifically, Ms. Maclean's CEQA experience includes helping clients ensure adequate analysis of greenhouse gas, transportation, air quality, noise and other impact issues facing transit-oriented and urban infill development. Ms. Maclean is also well-versed in the implementation of tiering, streamlining and exemption mechanisms.

In addition, Ms. Maclean defends environmental analysis, as well as planning and zoning compliance, at both the administrative and judicial levels. Ms. Maclean advocates for clients in the enactment and amendment of state and local land use statutes and regulations. She also represents clients seeking and reporting on grants.

Ms. Maclean has served as co-chair on the San Francisco Urban Land Institute's Programs Committee, which provides high-quality educational programs and opportunities for relationship building and career advancement among the real estate organization's Bay Area members. After participating in Holland & Knight's 2013 Rising Stars program, Ms. Maclean has acted as co-chair of the Women's Initiative in the San Francisco office, which organizes networking, mentoring and career advancement opportunities for women attorneys.

Representative Experience

  • Represented the owner in due diligence, entitlements and transactional matters for the redevelopment of surface parking in the nation's first Platinum LEED-ND mixed-use community, which is planned to include 650 units of mixed-income housing, approximately 400,000 square feet of research and development, community-serving retail parks in Emeryville, Calif.
  • Secured entitlements and construction financing for approximately 500,000-square-foot office and research and development, 540 residential units, retail, child care and open space on multiple city blocks in Redwood City, Calif., through an innovative use of the State Density Bonus Law for mixed-use projects
  • Conducted due diligence and represented the developer in achieving approvals of a mixed-use project that included approximately 1,000 residential units, 30,000 square feet of commercial space and the relocation of retail stores in San Mateo, Calif.
  • Secured entitlements for 800 residential units, 12,000 square feet retail, child care and associated amenities in South San Francisco, Calif.
  • Acted as CEQA and land use counsel for more than six residential and commercial mixed-use projects in downtown Los Angeles, including the adaptive reuse of historic buildings and a density transfer from other downtown properties
  • Conducted due diligence and represented the owner in obtaining entitlements for approximately 1,000 residential units, a 110,000-square-foot office, a 150,000-square-foot institutional building and a 370,000-square-foot commercial mixed-use project in Hemet, Calif.

  • Secured entitlements for approximately 1,080 residential units, along with office and community benefits, approved as three separate projects in Menlo Park, Calif.
  • Secured entitlement approvals for 550 affordable units and relocated park in Daly City, Calif., as well as multiple other affordable housing projects throughout the Bay Area in Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, Redwood City, San Jose, Hayward and Portola Valley, Calif., using streamlined CEQA options such as SB 35, AB 2162 and Sustainable Communities Environmental Assessments
  • Served as CEQA and land use counsel for the developer of approximately 350 residential units, including 35 affordable units, in Redwood City, Calif., which involved defense of the project in response to an appeal
  • Conducted due diligence and advised an institutional investor purchaser in connection with entitlements for approximately 1,000 units in Palm Desert, Calif., including a focus on infrastructure obligations and concurrent citywide entitlement processing
  • Conducted due diligence and served as CEQA and land use counsel for a developer in obtaining entitlements of approximately 1,000 units in Riverside County, Calif.
  • Conducted due diligence for an institutional investor in a joint venture with a developer for the purchase of a 225-unit residential mixed-use project in Oakland, Calif., including advising on transactional risk from appeal and a density transfer from a nearby landowner
  • Conducted due diligence for an investment manager of a real estate portfolio in the purchase of properties in Fremont, Calif. and San Diego, Calif.

  • Secured approvals for new 50,000-square-foot grocery store, street plaza and other improvements in Emeryville, Calif.
  • Served as CEQA and land use counsel for large- and medium-format retail stores statewide
  • Acted as CEQA and land use counsel for alternative education schools throughout the Bay Area
  • Represented corporate retail businesses in seeking Alcohol Beverage Control Act land use approvals in Yountville, Calif.
  • Acted as CEQA and land use counsel for winery approvals in Napa County, Calif.
  • Represented the owner of a prominent office building, as well as a separate hotel owner, in seeking approvals for restaurants and Alcohol Beverage Control Act land use approvals in Los Angeles
  • Served as CEQA and land use counsel for an office, research and development lessee in San Francisco
  • Represented co-working, retail and community services clients in zoning compliance action in San Francisco

  • Conducted due diligence for institutional investor acquiring industrial facilities in San Francisco, Fontana and Compton, Calif.
  • Represented industrial recycling facilities in the negotiation and settlement of stormwater compliance actions in Hayward, Calif., and Paramount, Calif.
  • Represented a cosmetics manufacturer in the negotiation and settlement of risk management enforcement action in Riverside, Calif.


  • University of California, San Diego, B.A.
  • University of California College of the Law, San Francisco, J.D.
Bar Admissions/Licenses
  • California
  • San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association
  • California State Bar Association, Environmental Section
  • American Bar Association
  • Urban Land Institute
Honors & Awards
  • Chambers USA – America's Leading Business Lawyers guide, Real Estate: Zoning/Land Use, Up & Coming, 2022, 2023
  • The Best Lawyers in America guide, Land Use and Zoning, 2022, 2023
  • The Legal 500 USA, Land Use/Zoning, 2021-2023
  • 40 Under 40, San Francisco Business Times, Class of 2019
  • Urban Land Institute, San Francisco Programs Co-Chair
  • Holland & Knight Public and Charitable Service All-Star, 2014
  • Holland & Knight Rising Star, Class of 2013
  • Honorable Mention, Wiley W. Manual Award for Pro Bono Legal Services, Legal Aid of Marin, 2012
  • University of California Hastings College of Law, Adjunct Professor, Spring 2011


Speaking Engagements