Attorney Profile

Elisa Paster

Managing and Founding Partner

As an experienced land use lawyer, Elisa Paster is a committed advocate for her clients, guiding and assisting them with development and environmental approvals, planning and placemaking.  She specializes in navigating complex entitlement and environmental processes across California, including Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Culver City, Long Beach, Glendale, Beverly Hills, Orange County, the unincorporated County of Los Angeles, and Northern California. Elisa is involved in all aspects of the development process: assisting in due diligence stages, strategizing on development and redevelopment of land, processing applications and overseeing environmental compliance (CEQA/NEPA), representing clients in front of public bodies, including appellate bodies, and defending the entitlements in litigation. 

Elisa regularly represents private developers in development of hotels and large-scale developments, mid- size developers in transformative urban mixed- use projects inside and outside former redevelopment areas, and a wide variety of property owners in the Coastal Zone. An important part of Elisa’s practice involves working with affordable housing developers and streamlining the process for these projects. She has consistently taken on complex land use challenges, big or small, and provided the necessary level of advice and guidance to get the job done through effective legal advocacy, strategic advice and personal relationships. Whether a project involves strategic advisement or a full environmental and planning process, Elisa’s extensive range of experience in land use and environmental law is an asset to her clients.

Before law school, she worked as a planner for five years and she is well respected in the professional planning community. Her previous “behind the counter” experience allows her to think creatively about legal issues and provides clients with a unique perspective.

Elisa is a long time Boardmember of Menorah Housing, a provider of low-income senior housing, and the past president of the Westside Urban Forum. She is former member of the City of Santa Monica Planning Commission and a frequent speaker at law, real estate and planning conferences. She is a frequent guest lecturer for Urban Land Institute panels as well.  

Elisa is admitted to practice law in Missouri, New Mexico and California.

Representative Matters

  • Coastal Zone: Successful and ongoing representation and defense of entitlements in the Coastal Zone of Los Angeles, including adaptive reuse in San Pedro, and multiple residential, hotel and mixed-use projects in Venice.  Representation has included CEQA review, entitlements advice, political strategy, Coastal Commission review and approval and litigation defense.
  • Mixed Use Project: Successful representation of national client in a large mixed-use development in Culver City that will be a gateway to the City and provide substantial housing to the City’s inventory.  Representation includes CEQA and entitlement advice, along with government affairs and strategy.
  • Affordable Housing: Representation of client in approval of development of housing for veterans at the West Los Angeles Veterans Administration property, including NEPA and CEQA advice, coordination with multiple jurisdictional entities and strategic advice.
  • Affordable Housing: Ongoing representation of a large affordable housing project in the Coastal Zone of Los Angeles, including CEQA review, entitlements advice and political strategy. This project is a joint public private partnership with the City of Los Angeles.
  • Mixed-Use Infill: Representation of developer in the approval of a mixed use project, including hotel, restaurant, office, and residential in Los Angeles, including CEQA review, political strategy for a controversial project, and planning and entitlement advice.
  • Creative Billboard: Representation of outdoor advertising company to successfully obtain entitlements for a cutting edge creative billboard in the City of West Hollywood.
  • Master Planned Community: Representation of client in the successful planning and entitlement of a former military base as a master planned community, including environmental compliance and review of environmental impact reports, preparation of entitlement applications, and participation in public hearings.  Representation included negotiation of a CEQA settlement in litigation.

Civic and Community Involvement

  • Former Chair of the City of Santa Monica Planning Commission
  • Menorah Housing Foundation, Secretary and Board Member
  • San Pedro Chamber of Commerce, Member, Economic Development & Policy Committee
  • Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing, Member
  • Westside Urban Forum, past President and Board Member
  • Benjamin S. Crocker 2014 Symposium on Real Estate Law and Business, 2014 Vice Co-Chair
  • American Planning Association, Member

Honors and Awards

  • “Women of Influence – Lawyers,” Los Angeles Business Journal, 2021
  • “Thriving in their 40’s,” Los Angeles Business Journal, 2020
  • Southern California Super Lawyers, 2017-2023
  • Southern California Rising Stars, Super Lawyers, 2012, 2013
  • “Litigation Star,” Benchmark Litigation, 2020

Publications and Media Mentions

  • Moderator, The 2023 California Legislative Roundup: Insights into Sacramento, Westside Urban Forum, October 2023
  • Panelist, State of the State and Housing: New Initiatives for Housing Development and How to Use Them, AIA|LA, March 2023
  • Panelist, “Glaser Weil’s 19th Amendment Event,” August 2020
  • Panelist, “Neighborhood Series: Culver City,” Bisnow, July 23, 2020
  • Panelist, “Strategies & Tactics for Entitling Affordable Housing Projects” SCANPH Annual Conference,  September 28, 2019
  • Panelist, “Solving Our Housing Crisis Through Transit Oriented Development: Panacea or Pie in the Sky?” USC Gould School of Law’s 2018 Real Estate Law and Business Forum, April 12, 2018
  • Panelist, “Sacramento’s Solution to the Housing Crisis,” Westside Urban Forum, December 15, 2017
  • Panelist, “Transit and Development in the L.A. Region,” USC Gould School of Law’s 2016 Real Estate Law and Business Forum, March 10, 2016
  • Calif. Density Law May Spur More Affordable Housing,” Law360, January 19, 2021
  • 4 Ways LA Ballot Proposal Would Stymie Development,Law360, February 1, 2016
  • “Is Infill Development Always So Good and Greenfield Development Always So Bad? Or Is Good Planning the Key?” Daily Journal, co-author with Catherine Norian, February 2013
  • “The Changing Face of Office Space: Leasing and Land Use Issues and Implications,” Real Estate Finance & Investment, January 2013
  • “The U.S. Supreme Court Considers Takings in Koontz,” Land Use Law Report, November 2012
  • University of New Mexico Law School, J.D.
  • University College of London, Bartlett School of Architecture, Development Planning Unit, MSc in Housing in Development
  • Bryn Mawr College, B.A., Growth and Structure of Cities