What's it like to work with F3?
Trust F3 to guide you through even the most complex transactions, smoothing the way with our extensive experience combined with a thorough, calm, and thoughtful approach focused on helping you see past the challenges to the end result. Every transaction has both a legal side (what you can and/or must do) and a strategic side (what you probably should do); we’ll give you our best advice on both.
What can F3 solve for you?
Navigating the complex processes required for buying, selling, and using school properties means managing intricate transactions, complex legal requirements, many relationships, and resolving disputes when they can’t be avoided. Because F3 is about education top to bottom, school real estate is a critical part of the picture. We’re here to help you manage everything related to the ground schools stand on.
“Public school districts own an incredibly large portion of land within the state of California. F3 attorneys know how valuable these properties are as the environments that facilitate student learning, and we are attuned to how the unique duty of public schools impacts the operation and management of these sites. We simplify the legal process and structure transactions to maximize a district’s goals and values.”Sarah D. Polito, Partner
F3 attorneys understand that while always advocating for the district, most real property transactions are cooperative efforts where both patience and creativity may be needed to achieve both parties’ goal of closing the deal. No two real estate transactions in which school districts, community colleges, and other higher education institutions engage are alike. There are various levels of decision-making that may include superintendents or assistant superintendents, chancellors, chief business officers, administrative services directors, in-house counsel, and board members. Real estate transactions have funding requirements, require detailed title review, compliance with statutory obligations, zoning and environmental considerations, negotiations, consideration of community impacts, and so much more. As one of the premier education-focused law firms in California and nationally, we know what it takes to give education a place to happen – with all of the complexities, processes, conflicts (sometimes), and variations that entails.
Buying and Selling Property
F3 attorneys regularly assist with every aspect of purchasing and selling school properties. We analyze title reports that provide critical information about the property, assist with negotiating the terms of sale, and prepare all agreements that dictate the process, price, timeline, escrow, etc. We regularly review and structure appraisals and assist in analyzing feasibility studies and may need to negotiate underlying appraisal assumptions as part of negotiating a price. When a district considers buying a property, we assist in performing a site assessment to ensure the property meets required environmental standards and is suitable for a school site. On the sale side, we often help districts divest properties they no longer need and assist with the many complexities from initial closing of the school through ultimate disposition.
Property use and other agreements
Our real property attorneys regularly draft and negotiate easements, restrictive covenants, joint use agreements, facility use agreements, leases, and subleases related to surplus school sites, athletic fields, and other recreational facilities, as well as property access agreements associated with, for example, cell tower installations and Civic Center Act uses of public property. We also provide districts with necessary support and guidance regarding inverse condemnation and eminent domain matters.
Zoning can be a complicated matter. We’re well-acquainted with the zoning regulatory authorities throughout the state and have appeared before local planning commissions and other governmental agencies. Our firm provides significant planning experience, including compliance with general and specific plans, municipal and county zoning requirements, subdivision laws, conditional use permits and variances, and other entitlement and approval matters.
Environmental suitability and CEQA
Real estate transactions for schools generally entail compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which requires public agencies such as school districts to consider the environmental consequences of their actions. CEQA is intended to “inform government decisionmakers and the public about the potential environmental effects of proposed activities and to prevent significant, avoidable environmental damage.” F3 advises districts on whether a project is subject to CEQA, regarding applicable statutory or categorical exemptions, helps prepare and submit CEQA documents, and may engage an experienced environmental consultant to complete the required impact studies. The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) administers CEQA; however, CEQA is enforced through litigation, with which F3 is always prepared to assist if necessary.
Our attorneys prepare, review, negotiate, administer and enforce letters of intent, memoranda of understanding and contracts related to the acquisition and exchange of real property. If contractual disputes arise, our litigation team is skilled in dispute resolution, including enforcing, prosecuting, and defending contracts in court or, better yet, through settlement negotiations, arbitration, or mediations.