Michael Patrick Durkee

Top rated Land Use & Zoning attorney in Walnut Creek, California

Law Office of Michael Patrick Durkee
Michael Patrick Durkee
Law Office of Michael Patrick Durkee

Practice Areas: Land Use & Zoning, Appellate, Environmental

Licensed in California since: 1985

Education: University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law

Selected to Super Lawyers: 2004 - 2006, 2009 - 2023

Law Office of Michael Patrick Durkee

1250-I Newell Ave
Walnut Creek, CA 94596 Visit website


Michael Patrick Durkee focuses his practice primarily on land use, elections and local government law (administrative/judicial). He represents developers, builders, property owners, cities, counties, special districts and interest groups in all aspects of California local government, elections and land use processes. Mr. Durkee’s land use entitlements and litigation work has involved some of California's most controversial projects. He has expertise and experience in: (1) Land use entitlement strategy, tactics and practices to maximize project approvals, and to minimize project vulnerability to litigation, and ballot measures; (2) California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), Planning & Zoning Law (general plans, specific plans, zoning, Subdivision Map Act, initiative, referendum, recall, Williamson Act, vested rights, development agreements); and (3) Litigation involving all of the above. 

Highly regarded by his clients and fellow professionals for his successful track record, Mr. Durkee has received numerous honors, including an AV Preeminent* peer review rating through Martindale-Hubbell, a “Superb” peer review rating through Avvo, 1992 "Outstanding Instructor Award," U.C. Davis Extension, and inclusion in Northern California Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers in America. His professional affiliations have included the Real Estate Section of the Contra Costa County Bar Association (former President and Board member) and the California Association of Environmental Professionals. Mr. Durkee is a frequent participant in land use writings and seminars for builders, cities/counties, universities and the State Bar. He is co-author of Ballot Box Navigator (2003), Land-Use Initiatives/Referenda (1991), Map Act Navigator (1999-2020), "Ask the Map Act Expert" (California Surveyor), and teaches the “Map Act Navigator” full-day courses throughout the state.

*AV®, AV Preeminent®, Martindale-Hubbell Distinguished and Martindale-Hubbell Notable are certification marks used under license in accordance with the Martindale-Hubbell certification procedures, standards and policies. Martindale-Hubbell® is the facilitator of a peer review rating process. Ratings reflect the anonymous opinions of members of the bar and the judiciary. Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Rating™ fall into two categories – legal ability and general ethical standards.

Practice areas

Land Use/Zoning, Appellate, Environmental
  • 80% Land Use/Zoning
  • 10% Appellate
  • 10% Environmental

First Admitted: 1985, California

Professional Webpage: https://www.michaelpatrickdurkee.com/attorney/durkee-michael...

Representative Clients:
  • The Kingsmill Group: Assisting client with land use, real estate and environmental issues. CarrAmerica: Assisting client with land use issues at McCarthy Ranch development.  Pacific Union Homes:  Assisting client with large reimbursement issues in City of Lathrop. PG&E: Assisting PG&E regarding its opposition to proposed takeover of retail electric service by South San Joaquin Irrigation District. Lake Luciana, LLC: Represent Tom Doak golf course developer in state and federal litigation (Napa County). Redbridge Estates/City of Tracy: Assisted with City/neighborhood challenge to "peaker plant" proposal (pending before the CPUC)on CEQA grounds. Extensive research and writing and administrative hearing preparation for direct examination (witness preparation) and cross examination. City of Stockton: Represented City in the negotiation and drafting of major development agreements and other related agreements for several large mixed-use projects; helped settle major CEQA lawsuit with Sierra Club and State Attorney General. Surland Companies (Tracy, San Joaquin County): Continuing representation of residential developer regarding full entitlement process for various projects in City of Tracy, including CEQA compliance, Specific Plan amendment, mapping approvals, development agreements and two competing initiatives; currently drafting very controversial development under City's growth management ordinance that will affect citywide development for 20 years. Opus West (Stockton, Rocklin, Brisbane): Helped conduct significant land use due diligence and land use approval guidance for large industrial properties in Stockton; CEQA environmental review and subdivision map strategy in Brisbane.  City of Chico (Chico, Butte County): Successfully represented City in CEQA, Subdivision Map Act and Planning and Zoning Law lawsuits. Negotiated developer provision of a new nature preserve as settlement of lawsuit.
  • Integral Communities, LLC (Newark, CA) Represent residential developer who is part of larger owner coalition seeking approval of large Dumbarton Transit Oriented Development Specific Plan in Newark; project gained certification of EIR and approval of General Plan Amendments, Specific Plan; now working on Development Agreement and separate Financing Agreement.  Sierra Point, LLC Represent office developer (formerly Opus West) in City of Brisbane; secured original approvals and extensions and now drafting Development Agreement.  Lake Luciana, LLC Represent Tom Doak golf course developer in state and federal litigation over Napa County denial of Use Permit. In a highly-publicized and politically-charged administrative and litigation matter, led the team that successfully overturned an attempt by Napa County to “redo” its denial action (in order to clean up its administrative record).  Contra Costa Community College District Represent Contra Costa Community College District regarding its processing and approval of a significant new college campus in Brentwood, California.  Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) Assisting PG&E regarding its opposition to proposed takeover of retail electric service by local districts.  Ellis Specific Plan and Development Agreement Represented developer in the drafting and processing of CEQA compliance documents (EIR), General Plan Amendment and Specific Plan approvals, and a Development Agreement (and other related agreements) with the City of Tracy. Opus West Corporation/Arch Road, LP Represent owner of a large industrial park in Stockton. (provide CEQA environmental review and subdivision map strategy).
  • Sierra Club v. Napa County (2011). Represent California Land Surveyors' Association as Amicus Curiae counsel in Map Act case of first impression. Lake Luciana, LLC v. Napa County (2011). Represent landowner in continuing lawsuit against County for denial of Use Permit. Convinced the trial court in a writ proceeding that the County violated its regulations by seeking to reconsider a prior Board of Supervisors' decision to clean up record. Fogarty v. City of Chico, 148 Cal.App.4th 537 (2008)Represented City of Chico at trial and in court of appeal in case of first impression in California as to what is an "exaction" under the Mitigation Fee Act, and therefore which challenge period (Map Act or Mitigation Fee Act) applies. County of Humboldt v. McKee, 165 Cal.App.4th 1476 (2008) Represented seller of lots to 35+ buyer co-defendants within 13,400-acre ranch in Humboldt County in very controversial, precedent-setting lawsuit brought by County alleging Subdivision Map Act and Williamson Act violations. State Department of Conservation involved because of statewide implications of lawsuit. Won at trial, lost on appeal. Currently remanded back to trial court. Santa Margarita Area Residents Together v. San Luis Obispo County 84 Cal.App.4th 221 (2000) Represented Texas-based property owner in securing first Development Agreement ever entered into by and between San Luis Obispo County. Development Agreement challenged in court and upheld by the Court of Appeal.
Bar/Professional Activity:
  • Mr. Durkee is the past president of the Real Estate Section Board of the Contra Costa County Bar Association.  Mr. Durkee is also a member of the State Bar of California, the San Francisco Bar and the Contra Costa County Bar Association.
  • The Best Lawyers in America - Best Lawyers Consumer Guide (2001, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016); Elite.Com - Member of Land Use "Elite"; Strathmore's "Who's Who" (1996-1997 Registry); Empire's "Who's Who" (2003 Registry); National Register's "Who's Who" (2004 Registry); Advisory Board Member, California Land Use Law and Policy Reporter, Argent Communications (1991 - 2001); U.C. Davis Extension Land Use Program - "Outstanding Instructor" award (1992); and Member, Assembly Local Government Committee's "Subdivision Map Act Advisory Group" (1993 - 1994).
Scholarly Lectures/Writings:
  • Courses Taught (Partial List): UC Davis Extension, Advanced Map Act (2011); The Subdivision Map Act, Map Act Navigators 12 classes throughout California (2011); Allen Matkins Breakfast Briefing, Walnut Creek (February 2011); Contra Costa County Bar Association MCLE Spectacular Real Estate Law Panelist (2011); Initiatives Law Panel, Environmental Law Section Annual Retreat, Tenaya Lodge Yosemite (2010); The Subdivision Map Act, Land Use Navigators, 8 locations in California (2010); University of California Extension (1988 to present): (Berkeley, Davis, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Riverside): CEQA/Advanced CEQA, Subdivision Map Act/Advanced Map Act, Land Use Initiatives & Referenda, Vested Rights & Exactions; 2010 California Bar Environmental Law Conference, panelist for "Ballot Box Planning: Local Control, Mob Rule, or an End-Run Around CEQA?" (October 2010); American Council of Engineering Companies, East Bay Chapter (January 2010); Allen Matkins Annual Breakfast Briefing, Walnut Creek (September 2009), Two-day Class sponsored by Tulare County (June 2009), Building Industry Association of Northern California (1987 to present), California Land Surveyors Association (1994 to present): Advanced Map Act; California State University Geomatics Engineering Annual Conference (January 2009), CLE International (1990 to present): The Williamson Act; California County Counsels Assoc. Annual Conference (April 2009) Land Use Aspects of Local Wetlands Regulations and Land Use Due Diligence; University of California, Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law (1998 to present): Visiting Lecturer, Land Use Course taught by Jan Stevens; Building Industry Association of Northern California (1987 to present): CEQA, Bullet Proofing Your Entitlements, School Impact Fees, and AB 1600 - New Standards For Development Fees; and League of California Cities (1987 to present): Annual Conference Planning Commissioners' Institute City Attorneys' Spring Meeting.
  • Partial List of Publications Authored: Map Act Navigator: A Practical and Tactical Guide to the Subdivision Map Act, Principal author (Land Use Navigators, 1999 -- 2016); California Surveyor Magazine (Quarterly "Ask the Map Act Expert" column 2015 (since 2005)); Daily Journal: "The eternal question: paper or plastic?" (August 2011); Daily Journal: "A Case of Mistaken Identity?" (June 2011); Contra Costa Lawyer:  "Better a Distressed Property than a Distressed Client: An Overview of Land Use Due Diligence" (May 2011); Daily Journal: "Protect Your Development Approvals During Market Cycles" (April 2011); Solar Thermal Magazine: "Are Solar Thermal Facilities Compatible with the Williamson Act?" (February 2011); California Lawyer "Environmental Land Use Roundtable" Panel member (December 2010); Ballot Box Navigator: A Practical and Tactical Guide to Initiatives and Referenda in California Co-author (Solano Press 2003); Land-Use Initiatives and Referenda in California Co-author (Solano Press 1991, 1990); California Real Estate Journal "Roundtable Land Use" Panel Member (November 2007); California Real Property Journal: "The Mitigation Fee Act" Co-author (Fall 2007), "A Modern Perspective on the Williamson Act: Conservation, Confusion, and Controversy" Co-author (Fall 2004), "Growth Within Bounds: A Discussion of the Recent Changes to the Laws Governing Local Agency Formation Commissions (LAFCOs)" Co-author (Winter 2003), "Timing is Everything! When to Bring Challenges to Land Use Initiatives and Referenda" Co-author (Winter/Spring 2002), "Understanding the Different and Dichotomous Roles of a City When Dealing With 'Growth-Related' Ballot Measures" Co-author (February 2001), "Maximizing Tentative Map Extension Opportunities" Co-author (September 1999), "1993 Legislation" (March 1994), "1992 Legislation" (March 1993); Land Use Forum "Antiquated Subdivisions: A Landowner's Perspective" Co-author (CEB, March 1996); California Land Use Law and Policy Reporter: "Tips for the Unwary: Understanding the Processing Steps Regarding Local Initiatives and Referenda" (December 1999), "Legal Standards for Local Agency Review of Lot-line Adjustments: A Subdivider's Perspective" (January 1999), "Multiple Contiguous Parcels Conveyed by Single Federal Patent Should Be Recognized As 'Legal' Under Subdivision Map Act" (October 1998), "Proposition 62 - The Tax Reform Measure that Rose From the Grave," "School Mitigation through Forced Mello-Roos Inclusion: Reading, Writing and Coercion?" (March 1994), "State, Regional and Local Growth Management: New Policies and Approaches for the 90s?" (November 1991); California Daily Journal: "The Williamson Act, On Life Support" (Co-author, October 2009); and Hofstra Property Law Journal "Money for the Taking: When Land Use Regulation Goes Too Far" Co-Author (1988).
Educational Background:
  • J.D., with Distinction, McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific, 1984; B.S., University of California, Davis, 1981
  • Mike writes a quarterly column answering questions regarding issues around the Subdivision Map Act. This is a popular column found in the California Land Surveyors Association magazine, SMA Expert Q&A, California Land Surveyor Association
Pro bono/Community Service:
  • Mr. Durkee provides legal services to the Land Surveyor profession at no charge through their trade organization, the California Land Surveyors' Association.  Mr. Durkee is a member of the Contra Costa Sheriff's Posse, a group lending financial and community support to the community program efforts of the Contra Costa Sheriff's department., 2010
Industry Groups:
  • California Building Industry Association
  • California Land Surveyors Association
  • Urban Land Institute

Office location for Michael Patrick Durkee

1250-I Newell Ave
Walnut Creek, CA 94596

Phone: 510-617-0569


18 Years Super Lawyers
  • Super Lawyers: 2004 - 2006, 2009 - 2023

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