Jolie Houston


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.

Ms. Houston is currently the City Attorney for the City of Los Altos and the Assistant City Attorney for Gilroy. She also served as 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

  • Specializes in representing public agencies and in representing private clients before local governments for land use approvals, including environmental review and permit processing, and litigation
  • 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


  • "The California Public Records Act in an Electronic World," City Clerks Association of California, April 2015
  • "Planning Essentials 101," and "CEQA Documents: What You Need to Read," League of California Cities Planning Commissioners Academy, March 2015
  • "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


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


  • State Bar of California, Public Law Section Executive Committee, 2004–2008, Secretary/Vice Chair, 2005 – 2008
  • 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
  • League of California Cities, Public Records Act Committee, 2007-2008, 2013-2015
  • Santa Clara County Bar Association, Environmental Law and Women Lawyers Section
  • Santa Clara County YWCA Board Member, 2000–2004


  • Santa Clara University School of Law, J.D., 1993
  • University of California at Davis, 1978


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