Firm Profile

About CHW

Colantuono, Highsmith & Whatley is a municipal law firm with offices in Grass Valley, Pasadena, Sacramento, Sonoma and Solana Beach that represents public and private clients throughout California in municipal law, including public revenues, land use, elections, labor and employment, post redevelopment, housing, public works contracting, utility services, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Act regarding Local Agency Formation Commissions, cannabis regulation and related public safety topics, and 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, Jeff Walter, Jenni Pancake, and Michael Allderdice have each achieved the highest AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell. Michael and Jennifer L. Pancake were named 2020 California Lawyers of the Year by the Daily Journal for their victory in the California Supreme Court in an inverse condemnation case. Michael (2011–2013) and Holly Whatley (2013) have been listed as among the Top Municipal Lawyers in California by the Daily Journal. 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, former President and Chair of the Board of Trustees of the State Bar, and former President of the California Academy of Appellate Lawyers—a prestigious organization of about 125 of the most respected appellate advocates in our State. Michael is also certified as an Appellate Specialist by the California State Bar.

Our firm includes California’s leading experts on local government revenues, including Propositions 13, 62, 218 and 26 and our attorneys have argued more than a dozen government revenue cases in the California Supreme Court since 2004. Our litigators have broad experience in public-sector litigation and such private-sector topics as general commercial litigation, labor and employment, unfair competition and intellectual property. We have especially deep experience in class action challenges to local government revenue measures of all types. We are handling challenges to water, electric and gas rates for cities, counties and special districts around California.

The firm serves as general counsel or city or town attorney of the cities of Auburn, Barstow, Calabasas, Grass Valley, Etna, Lakeport, Martinez, Montague, Novato, Ojai, Sierra Madre, Sonoma, Weed, Yreka, and the Town of Yountville, and the Successor Agencies to the Auburn, Barstow, and Sierra Madre Redevelopment Agencies, the Garden Valley, Higgins, Ophir Hill, North San Juan, and Penn Valley Fire Districts, the Orangeline Development Authority (dba Eco Rapid Transit), the SELACO Workforce Investment Board, the Calaveras, Napa, San Diego and Yuba County LAFCOs, the Oak Tree Park and Recreation District, the Pine Grove Community Services District, the Tahoe Forest Hospital District and the First Five Yuba Commission.

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, 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, Sacramento, Salinas, San Diego, San Jose, 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, and Vista; the counties of Marin, Mariposa, Riverside, San Benito and Solano; the Goleta Water District, the Montecito Water District, the Newhall Water District, the Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency and the Monterey Peninsula Water Management Agency; Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Authority and 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 and the Calaveras, Monterey, Orange, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo and Yolo County LAFCOs. The firm has previously represented the cities of Irvine, Oakland, San Bernardino, and San Francisco.


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

(530) 432-7357 – Grass Valley
(213) 542-5700 – Pasadena
(916) 400-0370 – Sacramento
(858) 682-3665 – Solana Beach
(707) 986-8091 – Sonoma