Kristen T. Castaños

Kristen T. Castaños
Sacramento, CA
P: 916.319.4674

About Kristen

Kristen Castaños is one of the firm’s most respected California environmental and land use lawyers. Known for her practical and business-focused advice, Kristen works with commercial, industrial and energy developers on due diligence, compliance and related litigation involving California’s key environmental and land use laws, including the California Environmental Quality Act, the California Williamson Act, the Warren Alquist Act and Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act. A former City Attorney, Kristen also works with a number of municipal and public entity clients, having successfully represented several California counties, municipalities and a redevelopment agency on CEQA and related land use issues.

Kristen was selected as the Sacramento Environmental Law Lawyer of the Year in 2013 and the Sacramento Water Law Lawyer of the Year in 2012 and 2014 by Best Lawyers®. She was also recognized by the Sacramento Business Journal as one of Sacramento’s “Women Who Mean Business” in 2013.

Outside of her client work, Kristen is a member of the Board of Directors for the Powerhouse Science Center.

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  • Provide siting, permitting and CEQA advice for development of solar, wind, biogas, geothermal, and natural gas energy facilities throughout California, including before the California Energy Commission.
  • Provide land use and permitting due diligence and financing opinions for major thermal, solar and wind energy facilities.
  • Represent private landowners and developers, as well as public agency clients with respect to land use and CEQA compliance, and related litigation.
  • Successfully defended City of Sacramento and former Redevelopment Agency in CEQA challenge to large-scale, mixed-use redevelopment project at former Railyards site in downtown Sacramento.
  • Provide advice regarding Williamson Act issues related to developing solar and other projects on agricultural lands throughout the Central Valley, California. 
  • Represent food processors, agricultural operators, and private and public agency clients in water quality enforcement proceedings initiated by Regional Water Quality Control Boards.
  • Former City Attorney, City of Ione – provided legal advice for all City departments and operations, including revisions to Municipal Code, update to Zoning Code, General Plan update, Wastewater Treatment Plant Master Plan project, subdivisions, and development agreements.
  • Rominger v. County of Colusa (2014) 229 Cal.App.4th 690 (represented County in CEQA challenge to subdivision map approval).
  • County of Sacramento v. State Water Resources Control Board (2007) 153 Cal.App.4th 1579 (represented County in challenge to waste discharge requirements for publicly owned treatment works).
  • Morongo Band of Mission Indians v. State Water Resources Control Board (2007) 62 Cal.Rptr.3d 492 (reversed) (represented Tribe in Superior Court and appellate proceedings in challenge to water rights revocation procedures).
  • California Farm Bureau Federation v. California State Water Resources Control Board (2007) 146 Cal.App.4th 1126 (remanded 51 Cal.4th 421) (represented water right holders in challenge to newly imposed water right fees).
  • California Farm Bureau Federation v. California Wildlife Conservation Board (2006) 143 Cal.App.4th 173 (represented real party in interest in successful challenge to State’s improper use of CEQA exemption for habitat conservation project on Williamson Act lands).
  • County of Colusa v. California Wildlife Conservation Board (2006) 145 Cal.App.4th 637 (represented County in successful recovery of attorneys’ fees in CEQA action).
  • Represent Colusa County in various state and federal proceedings related to development of landfill on Tribal property.
  • Successfully represented Colusa County in arbitration proceedings to recover fees owed to County pursuant to reimbursement agreement with developer.
  • Represent various municipalities in State’s imposition of municipal storm water permits. Negotiate permit terms and enforcement actions with Regional Water Quality Control Board, and represent agencies in lawsuits challenging permit terms.
  • Represented developer of proposed mixed use development in proceedings before California Delta Protection Commission.
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Honors & Activities

Professional Honors and Activities

  • Named by Best Lawyers® as Environmental Law "Lawyer of the Year," Sacramento, 2013 and 2017, and Water Law "Lawyer of the Year," Sacramento, 2012 and 2014
  • Included in The Best Lawyers in America© (currently: Environmental Law, Water Law), 2009-2017
  • Listed in Sacramento Magazine’s Top Lawyers List (Environmental Law), 2015
  • Member, Association of Women in Water, Energy and the Environment
  • Member, Women of Wind Energy (WoWE), San Francisco Bay Area and San Diego Chapters
  • Member, California Women in Energy
  • Listed in Northern California Super Lawyers® (Environmental Law, Land Use), 2010-2016
  • Executive Committee, California State Bar Environmental Law Section, 2004-2010; Chair 2008-2009; Vice Chair 2007-2008; Secretary 2006-2007
  • Member, Sacramento County Bar Association, Environmental Law Section, 1999-present
  • Editor, California Land Use Law and Policy Reporter, 2007-present
  • Editor, California Water Law and Policy Reporter, 2004-2007

Civic Activities

  • Board of Directors, Powerhouse Science Center, 2014-present 
  • Founding Member, Mother Attorneys Mentoring Association of Sacramento (MAMASacramento)
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Insights & Presentations

Insights & Presentations

  • “Exemptions Topic Paper,” reviewer, California Association of Environmental Professionals (California AEP), updated Mar. 23, 2016
  • “The Virtues and Vices of Ballot Box Planning,” California Land Use Law & Policy, March 10, 2015
  • “Will Recent Groundwater Law Impact California Development?,” North American Windpower, Jan. 2015
  • “Issues in Environmental Permitting for Bioenergy Facilities,” Bioenergy Association of California and American Bioenergy Council Webinar, Oct. 15, 2014
  • “Growing Growing Gone: Energy,” McGeorge School of Law Symposium, Sacramento, California, April 11, 2014
  • “Privilege and the CEQA Administrative Record,” Association of Environmental Professionals Annual Conference, Huntington Beach, California, Mar. 25, 2014
  • “A View to the Future: Anticipated Legislation and Regulation Impacting Land Use,” Land Use Law and Policy Conference, Sacramento, California, Jan. 10, 2014
  • “Siting Renewable Facilities on State and Private Lands,” Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, Las Vegas, Nevada, Nov. 7-8, 2013
  • “Planning for California’s Distributed Generation Future,” APA California Annual Conference, Visalia, California, Oct. 7, 2013
  • “Siting Renewable Facilities on State and Private Lands,” (coauthor), Renewable Electric Energy Law, Development, and Investment, Paper 3, Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, 2013
  • “Utility-Scale Solar Projects in California – The Keys to Development Permits in Desert Areas and on Farmland,” EUEC 2012, Phoenix, Arizona, Feb. 2012
  • “Wind Projects Enter New Permitting Reality: Policies addressing wind development on federal lands may favor the easiest – rather than the best – projects” (coauthor), North American Windpower, Oct. 2011
  • “CEQA Realities for Project Developers” (coauthor), The Law Journal 2011 Supplement, Fresno Business Journal, July 29, 2011
  • “Section 2 – Permitting” Case Study: A Wind Development Project in the State of California (coauthor), Stoel Rives LLP, June 2011 (PDF – available in English and Chinese)
  • “CEQA Court Cases and Other Legal Challenges in Wind Development,” Women of Wind Energy, San Diego, California, Feb. 2011
  • Program co-chair, Second Annual Solar Power Project Development Conference, San Diego, California, Nov. 9, 2010
  • “Understanding and Avoiding Potential Environment Pitfalls,” Infocast Solar Power Finance & Investment Summit, Mar. 2010
  • “The California Water Deal of 2009,” Stoel Rives Webinar Series, Nov. and Dec. 2009
  • “State Water Resources Control Board Initiates First Step Toward Developing Flow Criteria for the Delta Ecosystem,” Stoel Rives Water Law Alert, Dec. 2009
  • “The California Water Deal of 2009: An Historic Turning Point,” Stoel Rives Water Law Alert, Nov. 2009
  • “CEQA Update: A Perennial Favorite,” 2009 Environmental Law Conference at Yosemite, Fish Camp, California, Oct. 18, 2009
  • “Roundtable Discussion: Advanced CEQA Litigation Tactics,” 2009 Environmental Law Conference at Yosemite, Fish Camp, California, Oct. 18, 2009
  • “Introduction to CEQA,” 2009 Environmental Law Conference at Yosemite, Fish Camp, California, Oct. 16, 2009
  • “Ailing California Works to Solve Wind Slowdown” (coauthor), North American Windpower, Oct. 2009
  • Annual Spring Roundtables, (land use program cochair), State Bar of California Environmental Law Section, June 12-14, 2009, June 27-29, 2008, June 9-11, 2006
  • “Notice of proposed CEQA regulations on Greenhouse Gas Emissions,” Stoel Rives Environmental Law Alert, Aug. 2009
  • Sacramento County Environmental Law Section and State Bar of California Environmental Law Section Joint Luncheon (program co-chair), Sacramento, California, Jan. 29, 2009, Jan. 18, 2008, Jan. 25, 2007, Jan. 19, 2006
  • “Development in the Delta: The Old Sugar Mill Specific Plan,” California Water Law & Policy Conference, San Francisco, California, June 11-12, 2007
  • “California Water Rights Fees Overturned,” The Water Report, Apr. 15, 2007

Related News & Publications

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