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Stephen L. Kostka


Senior Counsel

Steve Kostka, senior counsel with the firm's Environment, Energy & Resources practice, has represented clients in a broad range of cases involving the California Environmental Quality Act, the Planning and Zoning Law, and other state and federal environmental and land use statutes. He also has extensive experience counseling public agencies and private clients on land use, CEQA and NEPA compliance issues.

Steve is a co-author of Practice Under the California Environmental Quality Act. This two-volume treatise is relied on by practitioners, planners, environmental professionals and the courts as the leading authority on the interpretation and application of CEQA. 

Representative Experience

  • University of California Merced Campus — Defended the University of California in an action challenging the environmental impact report for development of the new UC campus in Merced.
  • Stanford University Projects — Represented Stanford University defending the environmental impact report for Stanford housing, shopping center and roadway projects.
  • Port of Stockton Expansion Program — Represented the Port of Stockton defending program environmental impact report challenging the Port’s long-range plan for redevelopment and reuse of a former Navy supply depot.
  • University Villages Fort Ord — Represented developers in an action challenging the environmental impact report for the largest private development project within Fort Ord. 
  • Port of Oakland Maritime Projects — Defended the Port of Oakland in a NEPA and Endangered Species Act challenge to channel deepening and maritime terminal expansion projects. 
  • Coyote Valley Research and Development Campus — Defended the City of San Jose’s environmental impact report for research and industrial park. 
  • Elk Grove Regional Commercial Center — Defended the environmental impact report for a regional retail project. 
  • San Diego Wastewater Treatment Project — Represented the city of San Diego defending the environmental impact report for the city’s wastewater treatment and outfall project. 
  • South San Joaquin County Surface Water Supply Plan — Represented the South San Joaquin Irrigation District defending the environmental impact report for the district’s plan to supply surface water to the cities in south San Joaquin County.
  • Water Supply Assessment — Litigated successful appeal of action challenging water supply assessment for specific plan.

Professional Recognition

  • Named Best Lawyers' "Litigation - Land Use and Zoning, San Francisco, Lawyer of the Year," 2015 
  • Selected by American Lawyer Media and Martindale-Hubbell as a 2013 Top Rated Lawyer for Energy Law, Environmental Law, Land Use Law and Real Estate Law
  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America 2007 - Present: Appellate Practice; Environmental Law; Land Use & Zoning Law; Litigation - Environmental; Litigation - Land Use & Zoning 
  • The BTI Client Service All-Stars, recognized by corporate counsel as among the leading environmental lawyers in the nation in client service excellence.
  • Listed in Super Lawyers, Northern California 2004 - 2013; one of the top 100 Northern California lawyers, 2008 - 2009

Professional Leadership

  • American Bar Association
  • Contra Costa County Bar Association
  • Resources Agency CEQA Advisory Group, Legal Adviser 

Related Employment

  • Bingham McCutchen LLP, San Francisco, CA, Partner


  • University of California, Berkeley School of Law, J.D., Editor-in-Chief, California Law Review, 1973
  • University of California, Santa Barbara, 1970

Bar Admissions

  • California

Court Admissions

  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit