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Michael Patrick Durkee


Mike Durkee practices land use, elections, and local government law in both administrative and judicial proceedings. He represents developers, builders, property owners, cities, counties, special districts, and interest groups in all aspects of California local government, elections, and land use entitlement, review, approval processes and litigation. Mr. Durkee has transactional and litigation expertise in the laws and processes regarding the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), local governance, general plans, specific plans, planning, zoning and development, vested rights (common law, development agreements, vesting maps), exactions (fees/dedications), the Subdivision Map Act, Williamson Act, and local elections (initiative, referendum, recall). He also serves as an expert witness on these topics in litigation.

Mr. Durkee has been instrumental in the creation, coordination, and implementation of overall entitlement strategy (including defense tactics) for some of California’s most controversial development projects, including the San Jose Giants Ballpark Proposal, the Buck Center for Aging and Research, Black Point, Buck Mountain Ranch, and the North Livermore Initiative. He is widely recognized for his expertise in effective negotiation and resolution. He has extensive expertise regarding “value-enhancing” entitlements and is considered one of the state’s top creative land-use minds. Mr. Durkee regularly handles the coordination with city/county staff regarding the planning of the project, the negotiation and drafting of all agency documents for legal compliance and tactical advantage, the coordination of all environmental, planning, and engineering consultants and their reports, and the transition into litigation when necessary.

Mike's Land Use litigation practice includes representing landowners, developers, builders, businesses and governmental agencies in state and federal courts.

Mike is a frequent participant in land use seminars conducted for builders’ groups, cities and counties, the University of California Extension, the State Bar of California and Land Use Navigators.


  • McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific, Sacramento, California
    • J.D., - 1984
    • Honors: With Highest Distinction
  • University of California, Davis
    • B.S. - 1981
    • Major: Political Science
    • Major: History
    • Major: English

Past Positions

  • Best Best & Krieger LLP, Associate, 1984 to 1986
  • McCutchen, Doyle, Brown & Enersen, Partner, 1986 to 1997
  • Allen Matkins Law Firm, Partner, 1997 to 2012
  • Wactor & Wick LLP, Associate, 2012 to 2013

Published Works

  • Ballot Box Navigator, Solano Press, 2003
  • Land-Use Initiatives and Referenda in California, Solano Press
  • Map Act Navigator

Professional Associations

  • Contra Costa County Bar Association, Real Property Law Section, President
  • The California Land Use Law and Policy Reporter - Advisory Board, Former Board Member
  • State Assembly Local Government Committee's "Subdivision Map Act Advisory Group.", Former Board Member, Present

Practice Areas

  • Land Use and Zoning
  • Elections and Local Government Law

Bar Admissions

  • California, 1985


  • 1992 "Outstanding Instructor" award from the U.C. Davis Extension Land Use Program
  • Northern California Super Lawyer by the California Super Lawyers magazine in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012
  • The Best Lawyers in America - 2013 and 2014 (Land Use and Zoning Law)