Jane Ellison Usher

Partner, Los Angeles Office

PROFESSIONAL SUMMARY

Jane Ellison Usher is a partner in the Firm's Los Angeles office. She is a member of the Firm’s Environmental and Public Law, Real Estate, Litigation and related practices. Ms. Usher represents private, public, and nonprofit entities in the resolution of their government and regulatory affairs. With thirty years of expertise in land use, planning, zoning, environmental, real estate development, CEQA, Brown Act, Public Records Act, ethics, ordinances, legislation, municipal and administrative law, Ms. Usher advises her clients from the inception of a government matter, through agency hearings and determinations, to the conclusion of any litigation that might result.

For two decades prior to joining Musick Peeler in 2014, Ms. Usher served the City of Los Angeles in several senior appointed roles. These included Counsel to Mayor Tom Bradley (1989-1993), Alternate on the Board of the Los Angeles Transportation Commission (1991-1993), President of the Los Angeles City Planning Commission (2005-2009), and Senior Assistant City Attorney and Member of the Executive Management Team of the Office of the City Attorney (2009-2013). She negotiated the City’s complex real estate matters, including for the LA Live football stadium, NBC Universal, and USC; litigated the City’s highest profile cases, involving urban renewal, planning and development, building and safety, infrastructure, code enforcement, outdoor advertising and signage, medical marijuana, homelessness, and constitutional questions; and drafted and successfully defended many of the most innovative and ground-breaking ordinances, policies, and actions of the City. Ms. Usher has spoken extensively on zoning, environmental and municipal law, including on the important relationships between property owners, their neighbors and social justice.

COMMUNITY AND PRIOR SERVICE

Ms. Usher serves on the board of the Play Equity Fund, an outgrowth of the 1984 LA Olympics, which seeks to even the playing field for all student athletes, especially those of color. Formerly, Ms. Usher was the Assistant Dean to the USC Annenberg School. As an adjunct member of the USC Gould School of Law faculty, she taught a “ripped from the headlines” course entitled The Law of the City. Ms. Usher was associate general counsel to the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, and general counsel to the United States Football League, the America’s Cup sailing competition, and the men’s and women’s professional beach volleyball associations. Ms. Usher began her legal career at the law firm of Manatt, Phelps, Rothenberg & Tunney. Ms. Usher’s additional civic commitments have included Brown University, the Center for Early Education, the Constitutional Rights Foundation, Cornell University, the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, Harvard Westlake School, and Wilshire Boulevard Temple. She received Tree People’s Evergreen Award and the AIA California Council’s Presidential Citation.

REPRESENTATIVE RECENT MATTERS

  • Represented mineral rights lessee against recent municipal oil well drilling prohibition and in the land use laws of mineral rights holders. 02.2022.
  • Advised charter school clients regarding revised Covid-leave laws and Covid-related Brown Act obligations. 01.2022.
  • Negotiated pipeline relocation project and permits with County and State Water Board for water company. 01.2022.
  • Represented oil and gas client in preparation of its waste management and landfill plans, including regarding effects of third-party water quality litigation. 12.2021.
  • Led team of environmental experts in CEQA and well permit proceedings on behalf of water agency. 09.2021.
  • Preserved client’s industrial land use designation placed at issue in Housing Element Update. 08.2021.
  • Advised (pro bono) in homeless lawsuit challenging the actions of the City and the County of Los Angeles.  07.2021.
  • Represented agricultural and mineral rights clients in General Plan Update, including CEQA issues and appropriate mitigations. 06.2021.
  • Advised client regarding CEQA and eminent domain lawsuits to secure capital funding for charter school. 05.2021.
  • Modernized leases and disclosures for university client to conform to new City and State rent-control and other laws. 04.2021.
  • Advised oil and gas client in water board matters, including groundwater monitoring issues and waste discharge requirements. 02.2021.
  • Successfully argued CEQA error, resulting in Caltrans withdrawal of eminent domain action to take client’s Malibu beachfront property and attorneys’ fees. 02.2021.
  • Finalized unchallenged CEQA addendum that authorized construction of recharge basins in support of client’s wastewater treatment project. 01.2021.
  • Prevented improper grant of land use permit to radio station operators and defeated their ant-SLAPP motion in clients’ trespass and damage suit. 09.2020.
  • Successfully settled allegations of groundwater contamination on behalf of water company client. 12.2019.
  • Prevailed on appeal to West LA Area Planning Commission, overturning approval of national automobile dealership’s vast parking lot project near the Marina Wetlands. 08.2019.
  • Reached an agreement following litigation with the City of Anaheim to allow the continued operation by short-term rental clients under model short-term rental ordinance. 07.2019.
  • Successfully argued before the California Supreme Court, overturning long-standing constitutional precedent regarding pumping charges on behalf of water agency. 02.2018.
  • Led the preparation of wastewater treatment plant EIR and obtained victory for water district client in subsequent CEQA lawsuit. 05.2017.

EVENTS

  • Usher leads community Town Hall presentation on the City of Log Angeles Transportation Oriented Communities (TOC) Guidelines with the City of Los Angeles Planning Department. 06.23.2021.
  • Usher’s article questioning the proposed state legislation to largely abolish single-family zoning is published in the Larchmont Buzz, the Larchmont Chronicle, and the Los Feliz Ledger. 06.01.2021.
  • Usher moderates the Westside Urban Forum panel entitled "A New Vision for the Westside - X 4," answering  the question: Will the Westside change dramatically, or maintain the status quo? 11.22.2019.
  • Usher presents the 2018 State CEQA Guidelines and addresses all updates at the CEQA Panel for LACBA Environmental Law Spring Symposium. 04.12. 2019.
  • Usher speaks on best land use strategies and practices to a panel hosted by the California Charter Schools Association Attorney Network. 09.10.2014.

PUBLICATION

ARTICLE

ADMISSIONS & PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS

  • State Bar of California
  • United States Federal District Court for the Central District of California