Kristen T. Castaños

Kristen T. Castaños

Staff Attorney
Sacramento, CA

About Kristen

Kristen Castaños is a highly respected California environmental and land use attorney. 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 the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act. Kristen also works with 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 a senior deputy city attorney for the City of Sacramento (2017–2018) and an attorney with Stoel Rives LLP (2007–2017).

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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.
  • 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.
  • Successfully defended City of Sacramento and former Redevelopment Agency in CEQA challenge to large-scale, mixed-use redevelopment project at The Railyards site in downtown Sacramento.
  • 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.
  • Citizens for Positive Growth & Preservation v. City of Sacramento (2019) 43 Cal.App.5th 609 (represented City in challenge to General Plan update).
  • 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).
  • Representation of 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.
  • Representation of various municipalities in State’s imposition of municipal storm water permits. Negotiated permit terms and enforcement actions with Regional Water Quality Control Board and represented agencies in lawsuits challenging permit terms.
  • Representation of 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 as Water Law “Lawyer of the Year,” Sacramento, 2012 and 2014
  • Listed in Best Lawyers in America® (Environmental Law, Water Law), 2009–2017
  • Listed in Sacramento Magazine’s Top Lawyers List (Environmental Law), 2015
  • Listed in Northern California Super Lawyers® (Environmental Law), 2010–2015
  • Editor, California Land Use Law and Policy Reporter, 2007–2017
  • Editor, California Water Law and Policy Reporter, 2004–2007

Civic Activities

  • Board of Directors, Powerhouse Science Center, 2014–2020
  • 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 March 23, 2016
  • “The Virtues and Vices of Ballot Box Planning,” California Land Use Law & Policy, March 10, 2015
  • “Issues in Environmental Permitting for Bioenergy Facilities,” Bioenergy Association of California and American Bioenergy Council Webinar, October 15, 2014
  • “Growing Growing Gone: Energy,” McGeorge School of Law Symposium, Sacramento, CA, April 11, 2014
  • “Privilege and the CEQA Administrative Record,” Association of Environmental Professionals Annual Conference, Huntington Beach, CA, March 25, 2014
  • “A View to the Future: Anticipated Legislation and Regulation Impacting Land Use,“ Land Use Law and Policy Conference, Sacramento, CA, January 10, 2014
  • “Siting Renewable Facilities on State and Private Lands,” Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, Las Vegas, NV, November 7–8, 2013
  • “Planning for California's Distributed Generation Future,” APA California Annual Conference, Visalia, CA, October 7, 2013
  • “Utility-Scale Solar Projects in California—The Keys to Development Permits in Desert Areas and on Farmland,” EUEC 2012, Phoenix, AZ, February 2012
  • “CEQA Court Cases and Other Legal Challenges in Wind Development,” Women of Wind Energy, San Diego, CA, February 2011


  • “Exemptions Topic Paper,” reviewer, California Association of Environmental Professionals (California AEP), updated March 23, 2016
  • “Will Recent Groundwater Law Impact California Development?” North American Windpower, January 2015
  • “Siting Renewable Facilities on State and Private Lands” (co-author), Renewable Electric Energy Law, Development, and Investment, Paper 3, Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, 2013
  • “Wind Projects Enter New Permitting Reality: Policies addressing wind development on federal lands may favor the easiest—rather than the best—projects” (co-author), North American Windpower, October 2011
  • “CEQA Realities for Project Developers” (co-author), 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 (co-author), Stoel Rives LLP, June 2011 (PDF available in English and Chinese)

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