Firm Profile

(213) 542-5700
(530) 432-7357


About CH&W Law

Colantuono, Highsmith & Whatley (formerly Colantuono & Levin) is a municipal law firm with offices in Pasadena and Grass Valley in the Northern Sierra Foothills. We represent public and private clients throughout California in municipal law, including:

  • Public revenues
  • Land use
  • Elections
  • Labor and employment
  • Post-redevelopment
  • Housing
  • California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)
  • Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Act regarding Local Agency Formation Commissions
  • Sex offender and marijuana regulation and associated public safety topics
  • Associated litigation



Our core commitment is to provide advice our clients find helpful, understandable, and fairly priced.

The firm was recognized as one of California’s Top Ranked Law Firms by Martindale-Hubbell in 2014 and Michael Colantuono, Terri Highsmith, Jenni Pancake, Michael Allderdice and Scott Howard have each achieved the highest AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell:

  • Michael (2011–present) and Holly Whatley (2013) have been listed as among the Top Municipal Lawyers in California by the Daily Journal newspaper.
  • Michael was awarded the 2010 Public Lawyer of the Year Award by the California State Bar, is a former President of the City Attorneys Department of the League of California Cities, a Trustee of the State Bar appointed by the Assembly Speaker, and a member of the California Academy of Appellate Lawyers—a prestigious organization of fewer than 100 of the most respected appellate advocates in our State.
  • Michael is also a Certified Appellate Specialist by the California State Bar’s Board of Legal Specialization.


Areas of Expertise

Our firm includes California’s leading experts on local government revenues, including Propositions 13, 62, 218 and 26. Our attorneys have argued six government revenue cases to the California Supreme Court in the past decade:

  • Richmond v. Shasta CSD (2004)
  • Bonander v. Town of Tiburon (2009)
  • Greene v. Marin County Flood Control & Water Conservation District (2010)
  • Ardon v. City of Los Angeles (2011)
  • Alhambra & 46 Other Cities v. County of Los Angeles (2012)
  • McWilliams v. City of Long Beach (2013)

Our litigators have broad experience in public-sector litigation and such private-sector topics as general commercial litigation, employment law, and unfair competition. We have especially deep experience in telephone tax litigation, including a recent matter in which we were lead counsel in a case involving all 135 California local governments which tax telephony, and in class action challenges to local government revenue measures of all types.


Geographic Representation

The firm serves as general counsel or city attorney of the following:

  • Auburn
  • Barstow
  • Calabasas
  • Grass Valley
  • Lakeport
  • Ojai
  • Sierra Madre
  • South Pasadena
  • Town of Yountville
  • Successor Agencies to the Auburn, Barstow, Sierra Madre, and South Pasadena Redevelopment Agencies
  • The Oversight Boards for Successor Agencies in Huntington Park, Pomona, Rialto, San Bernardino, San Gabriel, and Temple City
  • Garden Valley, Higgins, Ophir Hill, Penn Valley, and Rough & Ready Fire Districts
  • Orangeline Development Authority
  • SELACO Workforce Investment Board
  • Calaveras, San Diego & Yuba County LAFCOs
  • Los Osos Community Facilties District
  • Oak Tree Park and Recreation District
  • First Five Yuba Commission
  • Tahoe Forest Hospital District



The firm serves as special counsel to local governments throughout California. Present and recent clients include:

  • The cities of Anaheim, Belmont, Berkeley, Brentwood, Burbank, Cerritos, Chula Vista, Concord, Culver City, Cupertino, Fremont, Fresno, Glendale, Huntington Beach, Lakewood, Lathrop, Livermore, Lodi, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Monterey, Morgan Hill, Mountain View, Newport Beach, Oakland, Oxnard, Pacific Grove, Palo Alto, Paramount, Pasadena, Pico Rivera, Redding, Redondo Beach, Rialto, Richmond, Riverside, Salinas, San Juan Capistrano, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Ana, Santa Clara, Santa Fe Springs, Santa Maria, Santa Rosa, Sausalito, Simi Valley, South Lake Tahoe, Sunnyvale, Torrance, Tracy, Tulare, Vallejo, Ventura, Vernon, Vista and Town of Yountville
  • The counties of Marin, Mariposa, San Benito and Solano
  • Water Districts including the Goleta Water District, the Montecito Water District, the Newhall Water District, the San Diego County Water Authority, the Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency and the Monterey Peninsula Water Management Agency
  • Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Authority
  • The Goleta West Sanitary District
  • The McKinleyville and Santa Lucia Community Services Districts
  • The Plumas Hospital District
  • The Los Angeles and San Diego Tourism Marketing District Corporations
  • The Calaveras, Orange, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo and Yolo County LAFCos

The firm recently completed a high-profile assignment for the County of Orange and has previously represented the cities of Irvine, San Bernardino, San Francisco, and San Jose.