California Land Lawyers

Land Use, Real Property and Environmental Law

About Matteoni

Our People and Our Focus

Matteoni, O’Laughlin & Hechtman is widely respected as one of the leading eminent domain (condemnation), land use, real property and
environmental law firms in California. Our specialized knowledge and extensive experience in these complex areas of law have allowed us to consistently
provide favorable results for our clients.

Founded in 1979 by Norman Matteoni — author of “Condemnation Practice in California”

Matteoni, O’Laughlin & Hechtman represents property owners, businesses and public agencies throughout California.

Named the top small (2-10 attorneys) real estate law firm in California by Super Lawyers 2013-2015.

We are also honored to receive recognition from the 2010-2016 U.S. News & World Report as:

“Best Law Firms – Metropolitan First Tier Litigation Eminent Domain and Condemnation Law”


“Best Law Firms – Metropolitan First Tier Land Use and Zoning Law”

Our office is in a historic 1881 building located in central San Jose.

Property law is complex
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Eminent Domain

We primarily represent the property and business owners, the client mix is diverse including publicly held corporations such as Hertz and IBM, smal businesses, farm/ranch owners, residential, commercial and industrial real estate owners and developers. We have handled several challenges to the government’s right to take private property. But the the usual case addresses compensation for taking of real property and damages to land that remains, as well as loss of goodwill to businesses taken. We do select work for public agencies as well.

Land Use

We advise and process applications for clients on general plan amendments, rezonings, site approval permits, Williamson Act contracts and subdivisions, appearing before local governments throughout the Bay Area for various land use approvals, including residential, corporate campus, Quarry, landfills and recycling, golf courses, shopping centers to cellular towers. We also provide litigation services to defend or challenge the government action.

Environmental Law

We provide advice, advocacy and litigation services to developers, landowners and users on compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act.

Real Estate

Our practice includes the negotiation, review and drafting of commercial leases, purchase and sale transaction documents, and easement agreements, as well as litigation services for a variety of real property matters.

Meet the team




Meet the team
Norman Matteoni

Norman E. Matteoni

Founder and Managing Partner

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Peggy O'Laughlin

Peggy M. O’Laughlin


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Barton Hechtman

Barton G. Hechtman


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Bradley Matteoni

Bradley M. Matteoni


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Gerry Houlihan

Gerry Houlihan


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Where We Focus
  • LA Freeways

Highways & Roads

Represented landowners throughout Northern California for total and partial takes—e.g. agricultural, nurseries, restaurants, service stations, packing plants, industrial, professional office, commercial, racing pigeon facility, motel, residential and pet cemetery. Clients included Sobrato Development, Oakridge Golf Course, Arcadia Development and California Giant Berry Farms.

  • CA High Speed Rail
  • BART

Mass Transit

Clients include the Hertz Corporation whose Pacific Operation site in Millbrae was taken for a BART station and numerous owners whose land was partially taken for the Santa Clara Valley light rail including SJW Land, Coherent Inc., Peery & Arrillaga, San Jose V Investors, Marbury REIFF and Macy’s. The firm is currently advising and representing clients with issues related to BART’s extension into Santa Clara County and the California High-Speed Rail Project.

  • Power Transmission Lines

Power Transmission Projects

Represented property owners in the take of property for high voltage power line easements seeking substantial severance damages. The properties include unimproved land in the McCarthy Business Park, Milpitas, ranch land with residential development potential for Harris Ranch, Coalinga, an office complex for Catellus Development, San Jose and an R&D park owned by ProLogis, Fremont.

  • Redevelopment Project

City and School District Projects

Represented property owners such as Barry Swenson builders whose office building in Stockton was taken and business owners of gas stations, warehouses, markets, shopping centers, a radio station, machine shop, a walnut processing plant, and printing facility whose property was taken for various city projects.

Represented developer Glen Loma for the take of their property by Morgan Hill Unified School District.

We represented the owners of the Tropicana Shopping Center, in their successful challenge against San Jose’s attempt to take their property.

On the government side we represented the City of Half Moon Bay Community Development for the take of property for a golf-course residential community and Salinas Union High School District’s condemnation for an adult education center and for the Salinas High School Expansion.

  • Guadalupe River Park

Water and Flood Control Projects

Represented owners in the takes of their property for flood control projects such as the Guadalupe River project in San Jose and the Bay Delta Conservation Plan Conveyance Tunnel (new peripheral canal). For a 43-mile water pipeline project by the Metropolitan Water District, we represented on appeal Campus Crusade for Christ Inc., owner of the property where the former Arrowhead Resort is situated in the San Bernardino Mountains.

  • Boulder Ridge Golf Course

Golf Courses and Recreation Clubs

Processed land use approvals for the golf courses of Boulder Ridge, San Juan Oaks, Cinnabar Hills, and CordeValle. In the case of Boulder Ridge, defended environmental challenge in court and successfully prosecuted inverse action over excess open space dedication, then negotiated settlement. Also represented various recreation clubs regarding permit compliance and Garrod Farms Riding Stables and Winery in Saratoga for a variety of land use ??? both city and county.

  • USC Broad Campus

Industrial and R&D Campuses, Retail

Processed general plan amendments and zoning for Silicon Valley industrial campuses such as Syntex in Evergreen and IBM’s Almaden Research Lab on 600 acres in south San Jose. Processed the permit for the Great Mall renovation in Milpitas for Swerdlow Co., for Home Depot and other big box retailers.

  • Landfill

Recycling Facilities, Landfills and Quarries

Processed local, state and federal land use approvals for new and expanding sanitary landfills and recycling centers, including Kirby Canyon, Guadalupe, Recology Zanker Resource Recovery, Z-Best Compost and Recology. Successfully defended environmental challenges to Kirby Canyon and Guadalupe Landfills. Also processed permits for Stevens Creek and Lexington quarries.

  • San Jose Residential Community

Residential Development

Processed general plan amendments and zoning for several residential developments, including Silver Creek Planned Residential Community of 1500 homes and golf course in the Evergreen hillside area.

  • Cellular Transmission Tower

Telecommunication Towers and Cellular Facilities

Obtained approvals for telecommunication towers for  Clear Channel Radio, and for numerous cellular facilities throughout the greater Bay Area. For GTE Mobilnet (now Verizon) negotiated the leases for their cellular sites.

Appellate decisions



California Supreme Court

LA County Metropolitan Transportation v. Alameda Produce Market,LLC  (2011) 52 Cal.4th 1100:

Government’s consent to withdrawal of deposit of probable compensation does not preclude the owner from making objection to the right to take.

Metropolitan Water Dist. of Southern California v. Campus Crusade for Christ, Inc. (2007) 41 Cal.4th 954:  

The probability of rezoning and existence of severance damages are questions for the jury, not the court.


California Appellate Courts

City and County of San Francisco v. PCF Acuisitionco, LLC (2015) 237 Cal.App. 4th:

A public entity’s settlement offer that was contingent on obtaining approvals from other government entities was unreasonable because it provided no assurance that owner’s acceptance would result in settlement of the action.  The owner was entitled to seek litigation expenses including attorney fees based on the unreasonableness of the conditional offer.

California Department of Water Resources v. PRI, Inc. et al (2014) __ Cal.App.4th __:

The right of entry statute cannot constitutionally be applied to permit extensive soil testing and borings and environmental surveys on private property; the appropriate process is a condemnation action for such tests and borings.  [This decision has been petitioned to the California Supreme Court]

City of Stockton v. Marina Towers LLC (2009) 171 Cal.App.4th 93: 

A city cannot proceed with condemnation of private property based on a resolution that does not properly described the public project for which the land is to be taken.

San Jose Parking, Inc. v. Superior Court (2003) 110 Cal.App.1321: 

A Redevelopment Agency could not condemn a parking management agreement (personal property) to remove the parking operation for new development.

City of Carlsbad v. Rudvalis (2003) 109 Cal.App.4th 667: 

Alleged damages caused by urbanization of the area around subject property and severed by the condemnor’s road project are not recoverable, where the condemnatory act did not physically affect the remaining land on which flower growing nurseries were located.  [Our firm represented the public agency]

Saratoga Fire Protection Dist. v Hackett (2002) 97 Cal.App.4th 895:

In a rapidly rising market, the demands of equity override a statute holding the date of value to the date of filing, where there is no deposit of probable compensation and even though the case is timely brought to trial within one year.  In these circumstances, the date of value is the date of trial.  [Our firm represented the public agency]

City of Hollister v. McCollough (1994) 26 Cal.App,4th 289:

where the condemnation laid out a new half street for general circulation and there was no benefit to the property owner’s remaining land, the consequence of future dedication of the other half of the street constituted severance damage.

County of San Diego v. Rancho Vista Del Mar (1993) 16 Cal.App,4th 1046: 

Land condemned for a county jail site cannot be valued on the basis of its use as a private detention facility, because a jail is a uniquely governmental institution for which only the government provides the market.  [Our firm represented the public agency]

BFI v. City of San Jose (Waste Management Inc.) (1986) 181 Cal.App.3d 852:

The city’s responses to comments by eight public agencies and one environmental group with regard to possible asbestos hazard and earthquake activity related to a proposed sanitary landfill was sufficient; and evidence supported the City Council’s approval of environmental impact report for rezoning the site.




848 The Alameda | San Jose, CA 95126 | 408-293-4300

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