Overview

Mary Lynn Coffee has extensive experience providing legal and regulatory advice and counsel with respect to complying with, and permitting under CEQA, NEPA, and state and federal water quality, wetlands, endangered species, and other natural resource protection laws.  Her experience includes successfully obtaining and defending, or administratively challenging and moderating the requirements of NEPA/CEQA clearances and environmental permits for public transit, transportation, water, and public infrastructure projects totaling more than $11 billion in capital costs, and for more than 25 different master planned communities encompassing more than 55,000 acres throughout California. She has successfully obtained scores of federal Clean Water Act (CWA) section 404 permits; CWA section 401 water quality certifications, California Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act Waste Discharge Requirements (WDRs) for dredge and fill; Cal. Fish and Game Code streambed alternation agreements; state and federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) permits (including section 7 and section 10(a) permits); general and individual CWA section 402 NPDES discharge permits; and WDR requirements and waivers.

Mary Lynn's expertise also includes Natural Community Conservation Plans (NCCPs) and Special Area Management Plans (SAMPs) developed to address state and federal Endangered Species Act and wetlands protection requirements, and Clean Water Act and Porter-Cologne programs to address Section 303(d) impaired water bodies and TMDLs, Individual NPDES permits, General NPDES Phase I and Phase II MS4 permits, and other surface and ground water quality requirements.

In addition, Mary Lynn is at the forefront in interpreting, creating and implementing permitting and compliance programs for, and engaging in legislative, policy, and regulatory initiatives to respond to, ever-changing requirements imposed on public agencies and private entities under CEQA and NEPA, the state and federal Endangered Species Acts, Porter-Cologne and federal Clean Water Act, and other surface and storm water quality mandates. Most recently, such work has included in-depth legal analysis of increasingly stringent NEPA and CEQA requirements for assessing and considering adverse project impacts of greenhouse gas emissions, storm water runoff pollutants, and storm water hydromodification, and providing assistance to technical teams developing state-of-the-art methodologies for assessing impacts and mitigation measure efficacy in response to evolving regulatory requirements.

Experience

Experience

Ventura Water.  Mary Lynn leads the Nossaman team as special environmental counsel for Ventura Water, a division of the City of Ventura, assisting the City in developing and implementing integrated and comprehensive local water supply reliability programs and facilities.  She provides CEQA, NEPA, and environmental regulatory and permitting advice regarding the construction and operation of Ventura’s current tertiary treatment wastewater facility, as well as its planned Desalination Plant, intertie connection for State Water Project water, and Advanced Water Treatment Facility that will produce purified water for potable reuse, as well as related treatment wetlands, pumping and conveyance, injection, groundwater pumping, effluent discharge, and conventional treatment facilities.  Mary Lynn is also responsible for coordinating these regulatory activities with Nossaman's defense of third party water quality related citizen suits and administrative challenges, administrative civil liability complaints, and other enforcement actions. She was the primary architect of, and now assists the City in implementing, two comprehensive Consent Decrees settling third party citizen suit claims and administrative challenges under the CWA and Porter-Cologne.  She also provides regulatory affairs and legal advice and counsel regarding various state and federal administrative rulemaking processes proposing new environmental regulations that will impact the mission, service, capital facilities and operations and maintenance activities of Ventura Water.

Santa Clara Water District.  Mary Lynn serves as special environmental counsel to the District. Her duties include providing strategic regulatory affairs advice and legal counsel with respect to permitting and compliance under: Sections 401, 402, and 404 of the federal Clean Water Act, and Porter Cologne; Section 7 of the federal Endangered Species Act; Section 10(a), Section 2081, and the habitat conservation planning provisions of the federal and state Endangered Species Acts (respectively), including HCP compliance and amendments; Dept. of Fish and Game Section 1602 Streambed Alteration Agreements; as well as under other wetlands, water quality, and environmental requirements and regulations.  She is also involved in defense of administrative challenges to permits; defense of administrative civil liability complaints, and other enforcement actions; and negotiation and implementation of several regulatory and stakeholder-driven watershed planning, habitat conservation planning, and TMDL programs.  Mary Lynn provides advice and counsel regarding compliance and implementation of the General NPDES Construction Activities Permit, and General Phase I MS4 NPDES Permit (including TMDL effluent limitations and low impact development requirements), and other surface and ground water quality requirements.  She also advises and represents the District in state agency administrative rulemaking processes proposing adoption of new or amended environmental regulations, policies, and guidance.

Tejon Ranch Company.  Mary Lynn serves as primary counsel for the Tejon Ranch Company, providing state and federal environmental compliance and permitting counsel and representation in administrative proceedings with respect to its development of the 270,000-acre ranch.  Nossaman’s duties include assisting the client in obtaining defensible Clean Water Act Section 404 permits, and related Section 401 water quality certifications, obtaining Section 7 Endangered Species Act approvals, developing HCPs and obtaining federal Endangered Species Act Section 10(a) and California ESA Section 2081 permits, obtaining Fish and Game Code Section 1602 Streambed Alteration Agreements, and completing related CEQA and NEPA documentation.  Environmental permitting and compliance services relate to three proposed development projects within the Ranch encompassing a total of approximately 48,325, acres, 24,725 residential units, and 16 million square feet of commercial and resort development, as well as management and preservation of 215,000 acres of conserved open space.

San Bernardino Water Conservation District.  Mary Lynn serves as special environmental counsel to the District. Her duties include providing strategic regulatory affairs advice and legal counsel with respect to permitting and compliance under: Sections 401, 402, and 404 of the federal Clean Water Act, and Porter Cologne; Section 7 of the federal Endangered Species Act; Section 10(a), Section 2081, and the habitat conservation planning provisions of the federal and state Endangered Species Acts (respectively), including HCP compliance and amendments; Dept. of Fish and Game Section 1602 Streambed Alteration Agreements; as well as under other wetlands, water quality, and environmental requirements and regulations.  She also advises and represents the District in state agency administrative rulemaking processes proposing adoption of new or amended environmental regulations, policies, and guidance.

California Water Association.  Mary Lynn provides strategic regulatory affairs advice and legal counsel and represents the client in state agency administrative rulemaking and legislative processes proposing adoption of new or amended environmental statutes and regulations, policies, and General NPDES discharge permits imposed under environmental laws on investor-owned water utilities.  She also provides legal and policy advice with respect to CEQA, NEPA, state and federal Endangered Species Acts, Clean Water Act and Porter-Cologne issues on an ongoing basis.

San Jose Water Corporation.  Mary Lynn leads the Nossaman team in providing policy, regulatory affairs, and legal advice regarding streamlining of state and federal environmental permits, and CEQA and NEPA environmental reviews for construction and permitting of new public infrastructure related to indirect and direct potable supply projects and storm water management capture and treatment projects designed to satisfy General Phase I MS4 NPDES Permits.  Duties include legal, policy, and project permitting advice and counsel under the federal Clean Water Act, state and federal Endangered Species Act permits, Cal. Dept. of Fish and Game Streambed Alteration Agreements, and California Porter-Cologne Water Quality Act.

City of Lake Elsinore.  Mary Lynn serves as special environmental counsel to the City. Her duties include providing strategic regulatory affairs advice and legal counsel with respect to permitting and compliance under:  Sections 401, 402, and 404 of the federal Clean Water Act and Porter Cologne; Section 7 of the federal Endangered Species Act; Section 10(a), Section 2081, and the habitat conservation planning provisions of the federal and state Endangered Species Acts (respectively), including HCP compliance and amendments; Dept. of Fish and Game Section 1602 Streambed Alteration Agreements; as well as under other wetlands, water quality, and environmental requirements and regulations. Currently, she is specifically focused on permits and approvals necessary for development of the City’s Eastlake Specific Plan.

San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG).  Mary Lynn leads the team serving as special environmental counsel to SANDAG, the regional transportation and planning agency for the San Diego Region. Nossaman attorneys serve as CEQA/NEPA and state and federal permitting counsel to SANDAG on a wide range of transit, highway, and mitigation and restoration projects.  By way of example, Mary Lynn leads the Nossaman team advising SANDAG in the preparation of an Environmental Impact Report under CEQA for a controversial environmental restoration project proposed to enhance a currently degraded coastal lagoon between the Cities of Oceanside and Carlsbad.  Mary Lynn and Nossaman are assisting SANDAG not only in complying with all requirements of the CEQA process, but also in preparing for future permitting by the trustee agencies.  Mary Lynn also assisted the SANDAG Sorrento Valley Double Track (SVDT) project team in defending informal third party allegations of failure to comply with the Statewide General Construction NPDES Permit, the San Diego Regional MS4 NPDES Permit, and the CWA Section 401 Water Quality Certification for the project.  With her assistance, SANDAG successfully prevented a formal third party water quality challenge to the SVDT project, as well as related water quality administrative and litigation proceedings.

Orange County Transportation Corridor Agencies.  Mary Lynn assists the client in both complying with the requirements of and obtaining federal Clean Water Act Section 404 permits, Clean Water Act Section 401 water quality certifications, Cal. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Streambed Alteration Agreements, implementation of the Central Coastal NCCP/HCP and related, as well as new, state and federal Endangered Species Act permits for toll road construction and improvements.  Duties also include strategic regulatory counsel regarding proposed state and federal rulemaking processes for new environmental regulations and legal advice with respect to compliance with endangered species, wetlands and water quality regulations, TMDLs, storm water quality NPDES Permit requirements (including MS4 NPDES Storm Water Permits and the General Construction NPDES Storm Water Permit), and development of comprehensive environmental law and permit compliance programs.

Irvine Ranch Water District (IRWD).  Mary Lynn served as Assistant General Counsel and special environmental counsel for IRWD.  As Assistant General Counsel, she provided general advice and counsel to IRWD regarding matters including, but not limited to, the California Government Code, California Health and Safety Code, California Water Code, California Water District Code, and Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Local Government Reorganization Act.  As special environmental counsel, Mary Lynn led the Nossaman team providing services that included strategic regulatory affairs advice and legal counsel with respect to: CEQA analyses of projects for IRWD and projects of concern proposed by other lead agencies; the impacts of proposed and new environmental legislation and regulations on IRWD operations; permitting and compliance under the federal Clean Water Act, Porter Cologne, state and federal Endangered Species Acts, Dept. of Fish and Game Streambed Alteration Agreements, and other wetlands, water quality, and environmental requirements and regulations; defense of third party water quality related citizen suits and administrative challenges; defense of administrative civil liability complaints, and other enforcement actions; and negotiation and implementation of several regulatory and stakeholder-driven TMDL programs to address Section 303(d) impaired water bodies, General NPDES Phase I Permit, General NPDES Construction Activities Permit, and General NPDES Industrial Storm Water Permit requirements (including TMDL effluent limitations and low impact development requirements), and other surface and ground water quality requirements.  Mary Lynn also provided strategic regulatory affairs advice and legal counsel to IRWD with respect to federal and state agency administrative rulemaking processes and proposed state legislation involving adoption of new or amended environmental regulations.

California High-Speed Rail Authority.  Mary Lynn led the Nossaman team serving as special environmental counsel to assist the client in complying with the requirements of, and obtaining federal Clean Water Act Section 404 permits, Clean Water Act Section 401 water quality certifications, state and federal Endangered Species Act permits, Cal. Dept. of Fish and Game Streambed Alteration Agreements, and other state and federal approvals required for the construction of the high-speed rail facilities and improvements throughout the State, as well as establishment habitat and species mitigation banks.  Client duties are now limited to strategic and legal advice with respect to regional environmental permitting, mitigation, and compliance programs.

City of Irvine Orange County Great Park.  Mary Lynn served as special environmental counsel to the Orange County Great Park, one of the nation’s largest public works projects. Nossaman provided strategy, advice, and counsel with respect to compliance with and approvals and permitting under CEQA, NEPA, endangered species, wetlands, water quality, and all other environmental resource protection laws and regulations.  Specific highlights for this representation included obtaining the permit amendments for, and complying with, federal Clean Water Act Section 404 permits, Section 401 water quality certifications, state and federal Endangered Species Act permits, Cal. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Streambed Alteration Agreements, and other state and federal approvals required for the construction of the Great Park facilities and establishment of a wildlife corridor, habitat mitigation bank, and water quality mitigation bank implementation and modification.  Mary Lynn also provided advice to the client and its private development co-builder with respect to contributions that the Park and the surrounding private transit-oriented development could make to green building standards, the City of Irvine’s Conserve Energy Plan, the City’s AB 32 Climate Action Plan, and the subregion’s compliance with SB 375.

Siskyou County Dam Removal.  Mary Lynn served as water quality and state and federal Clean Water Act counsel in preparing detailed comments on the draft environmental impact statement on the proposed removal of four Klamath River dams.  The comments examined all potential aquatic and water quality related impacts associated with proposed dam removal, including impacts on all affected fish and wildlife (including endangered species), water quality (including short- and long-term effects associated with sediment releases, nutrient loading, and anticipated impacts on water quality objectives adopted for the river, including objectives for sediment, nutrients, dissolved oxygen, algal growth, and other constituents), hydrology and drainage (including anticipated hydromodification impacts on bed and bank), and climate change.

Diversified Pacific Development Company.  Mary Lynn leads the Nossaman team in providing CEQA/NEPA and state and federal permitting counsel, litigation defense services, and administrative proceedings representation for more than 5 development projects totaling more than 1500 acres in the Inland Empire area of California.  Nossaman’s duties include assisting the client in obtaining local land use approvals, completing defensible CEQA/NEPA documentation, obtaining Clean Water Act Section 404 permits and related Section 401 water quality certifications, obtaining Section 7 Endangered Species Act approvals, developing HCPs and obtaining federal Endangered Species Act Section 10(a) and CESA Section 2081 permits, obtaining Fish and Game Code Section 1602 Streambed Alteration Agreements, defending a Porter Cologne Section 13267 Order, and defending CEQA and local land use challenges.

Lewis Operating Companies.  Mary Lynn leads the Nossaman team in providing CEQA/NEPA and state and federal permitting counsel, and administrative proceedings representation for the client’s development projects throughout Southern California.  Nossaman’s duties include completing defensible CEQA/NEPA documentation, obtaining CWA section 404 permits and related section 401 water quality certifications, obtaining section 7 ESA approvals, developing HCPs and obtaining federal ESA section 10(a) and CESA section 2081 permits, complying with the Riverside Multispecies Habitat Conservation Plan and San Diego Multispecies Conservation Plan, obtaining Fish and Game Code section 1602 Streambed Alteration Agreements, and defending CEQA and local land use challenges.

LKQ Inc.  Mary Lynn provides regulatory affairs advice and legal permitting and compliance counsel under the federal Clean Water Act and Porter Cologne for LKQ’s West Coast industrial sites.  Specific tasks include defense of third party citizen suits for failure to comply with the federal Clean Water Act/Porter Cologne General NPDES Permit for Storm Water Discharges Associated with Industrial Activities.

Ganahl Lumber.  Mary Lynn leads the Nossaman team in providing CEQA/NEPA advice and state and federal permitting counsel.  Nossaman’s duties include assisting the client in completing defensible CEQA/NEPA documentation, including greenhouse gas and criteria pollutant emissions analyses, obtaining CWA section 404 permits and related section 401 water quality certifications, obtaining section 7 ESA approvals, and CESA section 2081 permits, obtaining Fish and Game Code section 1602 Streambed Alteration Agreements, and defending CEQA and local land use challenges.

Gerdau Steel.  Mary Lynn provides regulatory affairs advice, and legal permitting and compliance counsel under the federal Clean Water Act, Porter Cologne, CEQA, and NEPA for Gerdau Steel’s West Coast manufacturing plants.  Specific tasks include permitting and defense of a third party citizen suit for failure to comply with the federal Clean Water Act/Porter Cologne General NPDES Permit for Storm Water Discharges Associated with Industrial Activities.

Kojima Development.  Mary Lynn leads the Nossaman team in providing CEQA/NEPA and state and federal permitting counsel, litigation defense services, and administrative proceedings representation for development projects in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.  Nossaman’s duties include assisting the client in completing purchase and sale due diligence and transactions, obtaining local land use approvals and development agreements, completing defensible CEQA/NEPA documentation including analyses of greenhouse gas and criteria pollutant emissions, obtaining CWA section 404 permits and related section 401 water quality certifications, complying with the Riverside Multispecies Habitat Conservation Plan, obtaining Fish and Game Code section 1602 Streambed Alteration Agreements, and defending CEQA and local land use challenges.

California Building Industry Association/Building Industry Association of Southern California/Building Industry Legal Defense Foundation/Construction Industry Coalition for CEQA and Water Quality.  Mary Lynn leads the Nossaman team in providing strategic policy and regulatory affairs advice and legal counsel with respect to CEQA regulations and litigation, including climate change, and greenhouse gas emissions issues; wetlands and storm water quality regulations and litigation under the CWA, the state Fish and Game Code, and Porter Cologne General; and state and federal Endangered Species Act regulations and litigation.

The Newhall Land and Farming Company.  Mary Lynn assisted client in developing strategy and approach to create defensible hydrology, surface water quality, and aquatic resource impacts assessment to support Section 404 permit, Section 401 water quality certification and CEQA impacts, and analysis that demonstrated compliance with all pertinent surface water quality requirements.  In addition, she assisted Newhall in preparation of the first subregional storm water and hydromodification plan to be approved under provisions of the Los Angeles Regional Board MS4 NPDES Stormwater Permit, which will replace project-by-project compliance with ever-changing MS4 Permit requirements.  Mary Lynn is also providing advice, counsel, and services to defend and address construction storm water Section 402 permit notices of violation and compliance issues and develop a storm water compliance program to assure construction compliance with all state and federal permits (federal Clean Water Act Section 402 NPDES permits for storm water, Section 404 permits; Section 401 water quality certifications; Cal. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Streambed Alteration Agreements; and state and federal Endangered Species Act permits under Cal. Fish and Game Code Section 2081 and Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act).

Centex Homes.  Mary Lynn assisted client in obtaining Section 404, Section 401, and Section 1602 approvals for Inland Empire division projects, and assisted client to address and defend construction storm water Section 402 permit notices of violation and compliance issues.

Tustin Legacy Park Partners (Centex Homes and Shea Homes).  Mary Lynn assisted client in obtaining Section 404, Section 401, and Section 1602 approvals, and in developing a strategy and approach to create a defensible hydrology, surface water quality, and biological (including endangered species and wetlands) CEQA documentation demonstrating compliance with all pertinent surface water quality and endangered species and wetlands requirements and regulations for the MCAS Tustin, Tustin Legacy master planned community.

Brookfield Homes.  Mary Lynn assisted client in developing a strategy and approach to create a defensible hydrology, surface water quality permitting, Section 401 certification, and CEQA impacts analysis demonstrating compliance with all pertinent surface water quality requirements and regulations for the Park Place and Keystone master planned communities. She also assisted with general CEQA and environmental compliance for Diamond Bar Village residential development.

The Irvine Company.  Mary Lynn served as Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and Environmental Compliance, and later as outside counsel; developed, supervised, and continue to assist with the implementation of environmental compliance programs for:

  • Implementation and modification of, compliance with, and defense of enforcement actions pursuant to federal Clean Water Act Section 402 permits for construction and post-construction storm water discharges, Section 404 permits for fill, and Section 401 water quality certifications; Cal. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Section 1602 Streambed Alteration Agreements; California Endangered Species Act Section 2081 Permit, federal Endangered Species Act Section 10(a) Permit/State NCCP Permit, and the Central Coastal HCP/NCCP.
  • CEQA review of land use and entitlement activities, construction storm water quality, post-construction storm water quality, construction phase protection of endangered species and wetlands, control of hazardous materials, and surface water TMDLs for more than 15 planned communities encompassing tens of thousands of acres of undeveloped land in the Cities of Newport Beach, Irvine, Orange and Anaheim.

North Peak Partners.  Mary Lynn served as Vice President of Governmental Affairs and General Counsel, assisted client in obtaining permits for a 2700-unit residential development in Lake Elsinore CA, including preparation of the North Peak multispecies HCP/NCCP and obtaining a California Endangered Species Act Section 2081 Permit, federal Endangered Species Act Section 10(a) Permit, federal Clean Water Act Section 402 permits for construction and post-construction storm water discharges, Clean Water Section 404 permit for fill, and Section 401 water quality certification;  and a Cal. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Section 1602 Streambed Alteration Agreements.

Fieldstone Communities.  Mary Lynn assisted client in obtaining permits for a 3500-unit residential development in Carlsbad CA, including preparation of one of the first multi-species HCP/NCCPs in the state of California, and obtaining a California Endangered Species Act Section 2081 Permit and federal Endangered Species Act Section 10(a) Permit.

Insights

Speaking Engagements

News

Organizations

Community & Professional

Association of California Water Agencies Water Quality Committee, Region 8 representative

Building Industry Legal Defense Foundation

California Building Industry Association Select Conference on Industry Litigation

California Building Industry Association Regulatory Affairs Committee

Construction Industry Coalition for Water Quality

California Building Industry Water, CEQA and Climate Change Task Forces

California Association of Stormwater Quality Agencies (CASQA)

California Association of Sanitation Agencies (CASA)

American, California and Orange County Bar Associations

Association of Women in Water, Energy and Environment

Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA), Water Quality Committee

Jamboree Housing Corporation, Board of Directors

THINK Together (Academic Support nonprofit for disadvantaged students), Secretary and Board Member (18 years)

Tustin Community Foundation, Board Member (8 years)

Assistance League of Tustin, Governing Board Member (16 years)

Honors

Honors & Recognitions

Recognized as part of the Irish Legal 100, 2018

Named Building Industry Association of Southern California and Building Industry Litigation Defense Foundation “Outstanding Advocate of the Year,” November 2016

Chosen for individual recognition for Environmental Law in California by Chambers USA, 2016-2017

Named to California’s “Top Women Attorneys” list in 2015-2016 by The Daily Journal

Selected to the Southern California Super Lawyers list, 2011-2019

Named Orange County's Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser for 2013

Education

Admissions

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