Thomas D. Roth

Mr. Roth’s practice focuses on environmental and land use litigation, counseling and permitting.  For more than 33 years, he has represented private, public and non-profit clients on a range of high-profile, large-scale land use, project development and natural resource disputes.

Tom Roth’s work includes environmental, land use and natural resource challenges to federal, state and local laws, regulations, actions and permits.  Property owners and developers face a dizzying array of ever-expanding laws and regulations restricting their use of private property. Facing these countless requirements can be daunting.  Sometimes litigation is necessary to respond to overbearing, excessive and illegal governmental actions.

Mr. Roth has assisted clients on permitting strategy and litigation involving a wide range of laws governing project development and land use, including takings and eminent domain, endangered species law, wetlands regulations, parkland law, coastal law, air and water quality law, affordable housing law, development impact fees, implied dedication claims and quiet title actions.

Prior to forming his own practice more than 18 years ago, he served as special counsel with the nationally recognized law firm of Sheppard Mullin, and before that was a partner in a nationally known Washington, D.C. environmental, transportation and land use law boutique.


He earned his B.A. with Honors and Distinction from Stanford University in 1984, and his J.D. from UCLA in 1988. At Stanford, former U.S. Secretary of State Condi Rice was his Honors Thesis advisor and he acted as the student body liaison to the Hoover Institution.  During law school, he served as an “extern” clerk for Judge Roger Vinson, a federal district court judge.

Tom is authorized to practice in California, Florida and Washington, D.C. He also is admitted to practice in several federal courts including the United States Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.  He previously has served on the American Bar Association’s Endangered Species Committee.

He also served on the editorial board of California Land Use Law and Policy Reporter (2004-2010).


“California Senate Bill 481: A Safe Landing for Endangered Birds, But Not for Aircraft” California Land Use Law and Policy Reporter (2010).

“The Bush Administration’s Endangered Species Act Rule Changes: ‘A Narrow Fix’ or a ‘Threat to Planet Earth’?” California Land Use Law and Policy Reporter (2008).

Contributing Author: ICMA Base Reuse Handbook, International City/County Management Association (1997) (2002).

“Coastal Development Permit Appeals: Surprise, You’ve Got ESHA!” California Land Use Law and Policy Reporter (2001).

Selected cases

Friends of Oceano Dunes v. Ainsworth, 785 F. App’x 394, 395 (9th Cir. 2019)

Boatworks, LLC v. City of Alameda, 35 Cal.App.5th 290 (Cal. App. 1st Dist. 2019)

Friends of Oceano Dunes v. San Luis Obispo County Air Pollution Control Dist., 235 Cal.App.4th 957 (Cal. App. 2d Dist. 2015)

Sierra Club v. Department of Parks & Recreation, 202 Cal.App.4th 735 (Cal. App. 2d Dist. 2012)

Friends of Oceano Dunes, Inc. v. Salazar, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 147481 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 22, 2011)

Security National Guaranty, Inc. v. California Coastal Com., 159 Cal.App.4th 402 (Cal. App. 1st Dist. 2008)

Sec. Nat’l Guaranty, Inc. v. Shores LLC, 2007 Bankr. LEXIS 2896 (Bankr. N.D. Cal. 2007)

Marine Forests Society v. California Coastal Com., 36 Cal.4th 1 (Cal. 2005)

Home Builders Ass’n of N. Cal. v. Norton, 293 F. Supp.2d 1 (D. D.C. 2002)

Metcalf & Eddy, Inc. v. Puerto Rico Aqueduct & Sewer Auth., 991 F.2d 935 (1st Cir. 1993)