Attorneys

Jolie Houston

Partner

Land Use & Municipal Law

Ms. Houston practices in the areas of land use and public law with an emphasis on municipal law.  She joined Berliner Cohen in 1998. Ms. Houston represents private land use clients in a wide variety of land use and regulatory approvals.

Since August 2016, Ms. Houston has been serving as the Interim City Attorney for the City of Merced. She has been serving as the Assistant City Attorney for Gilroy for 19 years. She also served as the City Attorney for Los Altos for 13 years and District Counsel for the Sanitary District No. 1 of Marin County for four years, and was formerly the Deputy City Attorney for the City of Santa Clara.

Representative Cases

  • Los Altos Golf & Country Club v. County of Santa Clara
    165 Cal.App.4th 198 (2008) Successfully defended the City of Los Altos and County of Santa Clara against a class action lawsuit for sewer fee refunds under the Health & Safety Code, as well as constitutional claims
  • Vinod Patel v. City of Gilroy
    97 Cal.App.4th 483 (6th Dist. 2002) As Counsel for the City of Gilroy, successfully defended the City’s Transient Occupancy Tax Ordinance from a constitutional challenge

Representative Matters

  • Ms. Houston practices in the area of land use and public law with an emphasis on municipal law. Ms. Houston represents private and public land use clients in a wide variety of land use and regulatory approvals, such as CEQA, Map Act, Density Bonus, Housing Accountability Act, development impact fees, development agreements, prevailing wages, zoning compliance, including non-conforming uses, conditional use permits and variances. Her public and private practice also includes land use litigation. 
  • As a City Attorney, Ms. Houston has advised city staff and city council on complex and controversial projects that included exclusive rights to negotiate, development agreements and project approvals. As private counsel, she has advised clients on various private/public partnerships including complex prevailing wage issues.
  • Ms. Houston’s practice also includes advising on compliance with the Public Records Act, Brown Act Conflict of Interest and Propositions 218 and 26.
  • Ms. Houston has worked with county staff and appeared before the Board of Supervisors in Santa Clara, as well as represented clients for city approvals in American Canyon, Campbell, Hillsborough, Los Altos Hills, Los Gatos, Modesto, Napa, San Jose, Santa Clara, Saratoga and Scotts Valley.

Professional Admissions

  • State Bar of California

Presentations

  • League of California Cities, City Attorney Webinar: “Public Records Act Practices after the San Jose Decision,” July 20, 2017
  • “Government Clerks and Litigation:  What You Need to Know,” Master Municipal Clerks and Clerk of the Board Academy, February 2017
  • “The California Public Records Act in an Electronic World,” City Clerks Association of California Annual Conference – April 2015
  • “Planning Essentials 101,” “CEQA Documents:  What You Need to Read,” League of California Cities Planning Commissioners Academy, March 2015
  • “Planning Commissioner’s Roles and Responsibilities,” League of California Cities Planning Commissioners Academy, February 2013
  • “The Peoples Business: A Guide to the California Public Records Act and the Additional Obligations of Sunshine Laws,” Northern California City Clerks Association, January 2012
  • “Sign Regulation in the Digital Age,” League of California Cities Planners Expo, 
  • March 2011
  • “Foreclosures” Annual Conference, League of California Cities, September 2008
  • “Reviewing Projects–Condition of Approval and Findings,” League of California Cities Planners Expo, March 2006 and March 2007
  • “Revenue Raising Options for Cities: Adopting and Enforcing Transient Occupancy Taxes,” City Attorneys Department Spring Conference, League of California Cities, May 2004
  • “Zoning and Land Use in California,” Lorman Education Services, faculty speaker and panelist, San Jose, April 2003
     

Articles/Publications

  • What Cities Should Know About Public Records in Private Accounts” August 2017 edition of Western City magazine.

  • "Cost Effective Public Records Act Compliance and Transparency Following Proposition 42," Western States magazine, January 2015. 

Activities/Memberships

  • League of California Cities, Public Records Act Committee, Chair, 2016-2018
  • League of California Cities, Public Records Act Committee, 2006-2008, 2013-2015
  • League of California Cities, Municipal Law Handbook Committee, Chapter Chair, Foundations of Municipal Government, 2005-2007, 2009-2011, 2012-2014
  • League of California Cities, City Attorneys Department’s Nominating Committee, 2006
  • State Bar of California, Public Law Section Executive Committee, 2004-2008, Secretary/Vice-Chair, 2005-2008
  • Santa Clara County Bar Association, Environmental Law and Women Lawyers Section
  • Santa Clara County YWCA Board Member, 2000–2004
     

Education

  • Santa Clara University School of Law, J.D., 1994
  • University of California at Davis, 1978

Personal

  • Born in Sacramento, California
  • Interests include running, skiing, cooking and gardening