Costa Mesa, California 92626
Mr. Muñoz is the Co-Chair of the Government Relations Department and a partner in the firm's Government & Regulatory Law Section where he has been practicing since joining the firm in 1989. His practice emphasis includes a wide variety of legal matters, both litigation and transactional, encountered in the representation of public entities and private individuals and organizations dealing with governmental agencies. Mr. Muñoz is readily familiar with all aspects of general municipal affairs and the myriad of state and federal statutes, regulations and case decisions which regulate local governmental agencies, and those who do business with them. He currently serves as the City Attorney for the cities of Dana Point and Twentynine Palms and Assistant City Attorney for the cities of San Juan Capistrano and Adelanto. He has previously served as the City Attorney for Adelanto, and Assistant City Attorney in the cities of San Fernando, West Covina and Baldwin Park.
Mr. Muñoz has developed a particular practice emphasis in matters involving solid waste. In this regard he has negotiated and written contracts and franchise agreements for both public entities and private solid waste enterprises, and has actively participated in the adoption of statewide solid waste regulations and the permitting of solid waste facilities.
Mr. Muñoz' practice has also focused on matters involving Special Education. In this capacity he has handled innumerable Special Education mediations and Due Process Hearings on behalf of five different school districts.
Mr. Muñoz' practice has not been limited to the representation of public agencies. Utilizing the legal, management and business skills required in his City Attorney practice, Mr. Muñoz also serves as general counsel for several medium-sized and small businesses, advising them in a wide variety of matters. He has additional experience as a governmental affairs representative, handling matters for private parties and entities in situations in which clients find themselves interacting with governmental agencies. His private client representation includes both litigation and non-litigation matters in areas of land use, acquisitions, administrative law, Alcoholic Beverage Control regulations, and contractual negotiations and disputes.
Public Law Career Highlights
Mr. Muñoz started with Rutan and Tucker’s Public Law Section in 1989 after graduating with honors from Loyola Law School. Soon thereafter he became Assistant City Attorney in the Cities of West Covina, Baldwin Park, San Fernando and Canyon Lake, as well as Deputy City Attorney in the City of Irvine.
In these roles, among other things, he assisted with the incorporation of the City of Canyon Lake and regularly participated as a speaker at the annual California Building Officials’ Conference. As Assistant City Attorney for San Fernando, he drafted an ordinance banning two warring gangs from a local park which withstood an A.C.L.U. challenge and served as a model for gang abatement in Los Angeles County.
In 1994 Mr. Muñoz became Twentynine Palms’ City Attorney. In this role over nearly 20 years he has assisted in a wide variety of projects including, perhaps most notably, the annexation of the Twentynine Palms Air Ground Combat Center. He has more recently been active in formulating and implementing regulations applicable to the solar farm industry that is rapidly expanding in the desert. He is also currently leading the City’s legal efforts to preserve its former Redevelopment Agency’s bond proceeds for use in designated City projects.
Mr. Muñoz also serves as the General Counsel for the Morango Basin Transit Authority, which provides public transportation services in the communities of Twentynine Palms, Yucca Valley, and Joshua Tree.
The City of Dana Point appointed Mr. Muñoz as its City Attorney in 2002. As City Attorney, among other achievements, he led the City’s legal efforts related to the approval of the Headlands development by the California Coastal Commission, and successfully defended against related legal challenges to this approval. He also successfully led the defense of a complex legal challenge to the City’s Housing Element by which opponents to a mobile home park closure sought to eliminate the City's ability to exercise its land use authority in connection with any project. More recently, he lead the City’s legal team against efforts by the IRS to compel recreation class instructors to be classified as employees, rather than the common practice of classifying them as independent contractors. Of particular public interest, he has led Dana Point’s legal efforts which successfully shut all marijuana dispensaries operating in the City, and received judgments in excess of $7,000,000.00 on behalf of the City due to the dispensaries’ illegal operations in violation of California’s medical marijuana laws.
Mr. Muñoz was appointed as City Attorney in Adelanto in 2007, a position he held until 2009, and continues on today as Adelanto’s Assistant City Attorney. As City Attorney he led the City’s legal team when, in the recent economic downturn, it was forced to deal with the fallout of its default on a complex financing involving auction rate bonds and a so called “SWAP.” Through a complex combination of water and sewer rate increases, bond refinancing, and the sale of certain public properties his efforts enabled the City to successfully avoid filing for bankruptcy protection.
Mr. Muñoz has negotiated numerous solid waste franchise agreements, and agreements for recycling services at so called “MRFs”, including agreements in the cities of Santa Clarita, Santa Ana, Fullerton, Irvine, San Clemente, La Quinta, Dana Point, Twentynine Palms, and La Palma. In a related vein, he actively participated in the adoption of statewide regulations by the California Integrated Waste Management Board applicable to facilities handling Construction and Demolition Waste.
Mr. Muñoz has handled numerous complex litigation matters on behalf of various cities. These cases have included landslide and flooding claims, challenges to the award of solid waste franchises, inverse condemnation claims, suits brought pursuant to 42 USC Section 1983, CEQA claims, and writ challenges to development projects and ordinances. He has regularly handled cases before California’s appellate courts. In 2011 he appeared before the California Supreme Court in connection with the “appealability” of City Council issued legislative subpoenas, and is scheduled to argue before the Supreme Court once more in 2012 in connection with the question of who has standing to challenge a city’s zoning regulations applicable to so called marijuana collectives.
Over the years Mr. Muñoz has been a speaker at a variety of League of California City committee meetings/conferences, and has assisted with updating the California Municipal Law Handbook. He has served as a volunteer moot court judge for the Constitutional Rights Foundation, has handled several pro-bono cases for Orange County’s Public Law Center, and has given numerous presentations on Legal Ethics to a variety of public officials.
|Areas of Practice||1) Environmental Law, 2) Government & Regulatory Law, 3) Government Relations and Political Law and 4) Land Use/Natural Resources|
|Law School||Loyola Law School, Los Angeles|
|Education||Loyola Law School, Los Angeles|
|Bar Member / Association||State Bar of California|
|Most recent firm||Rutan & Tucker, LLP|
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