Ellison Folk

Ms. Folk joined Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger in 1990 and is a partner with the firm. Ms. Folk represents public agencies and environmental organizations on a wide range of environmental and land use issues, including CEQA, the California Coastal Act, Proposition 65, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and general plan and zoning law. Ms. Folk also advises and defends public agencies in litigation raising takings and related constitutional challenges to land use and environmental regulations.

photo by Liza Heider

Ms. Folk has considerable litigation experience in state and federal courts on behalf of environmental organizations and public entities. Most recently, Ms. Folk represented the City of Oxnard before the California Public Utilities Commission and the California Energy Commission its successful effort to oppose the location of a natural gas fired power plant on the beach in Oxnard. Ms. Folk also represented the City of East Palo Alto in negotiating a ground breaking settlement with Facebook that resulted in the establishment of a $20 million fund for affordable housing and requirements for job training and other opportunities for residents of East Palo Alto.

Ms. Folk also defended the Bay Area Air Quality Management District in litigation that resulted in upholding the vast majority of CEQA thresholds of significance adopted by the Air District. California Building Industry Assn. v. Bay Area Air Quality Management District (2015) 62 Cal.4th 369.

Ms. Folk also successfully defended the City of Morgan Hill in Arcadia v. City of Morgan Hill (2011) 197 Cal App.4th 1526 – an action brought by a developer claiming that the City’s land use restrictions violated its right to equal protection.

Ms. Folk also successfully defended the Mid-Peninsula Regional Open Space District in Citizens for Responsible Open Space v. San Mateo Local Agency Formation Commission (2008) 159 Cal.App.4th 717.

Ms. Folk served as co-counsel representing the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) in defeating a challenge to the agency’s comprehensive plan for protection of Lake Tahoe. Tahoe-Sierra Preservation Council v. TRPA (2002) 122 S.Ct. 146. The case resulted in a precedent-setting ruling from the United States Supreme Court that reasonable delays in land use planning do not result in a taking of property.

Ms. Folk has been named as a Northern California Super Lawyer for 2012 through 2018, and is the lead author for several publications regarding takings law, including Chapter 65: Takings and Other Constitutional Controls in California Environmental Law and Land Use Practice (Matthew Bender), and articles for the California Environmental Law Reporter. She regularly speaks at conferences regarding land use and environmental issues.

Ms. Folk served on the Board of Directors of Creative Arts Charter School from 2009 to 2013 and was president on the Board from 2011 to 2013. Ms. Folk also served on the Board of Directors for Save San Francisco Bay Association from 1998 through 2003. She received her law degree from Berkeley Law School, and she also holds a Masters in City and Regional Planning from the University of California Berkeley. Ms. Folk graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University in 1984.

Ms. Folk is a member of the Bars of the State of California, the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, and U.S. District Courts for the Northern, Eastern and Central Districts of California.