Todd Leishman helps public agencies and private developers create successful projects by applying his experience in environmental law and real estate, as well as creative approaches to negotiation. With a background in public policy and local government law, Todd is also a sought-after adviser on issues surrounding short-term rentals, sober-living facilities and other housing matters.
Todd, a partner in Best Best & Krieger LLP’s Ontario and Irvine offices, handles complex real estate and regulatory matters for both private and public clients across the West Coast and Southwest. With an understanding of both private and municipal perspectives, Todd has the distinct ability to find common ground and hidden value, which helps him bring projects to fruition and deescalate contention — but he also knows when and how to take a hard line to defend client’s rights. Working collaboratively and constructively, Todd coordinates BB&K service teams to acquire and develop real estate, review environmental impacts, obtain state and federal permits and licenses, assure water availability, and meet affordable housing goals.
Todd helps negotiate and implement development agreements, other entitlements and related improvement and funding agreements. He ensures compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, the California Environmental Quality Act, the Planning and Zoning Law, the Subdivision Map Act, the Mitigation Fee Act and other laws and regulations affecting development and municipalities. In every arena, he brings a litigator’s experience to transactions to help minimize disputes and achieve successful outcomes for his clients.
Todd serves as city attorney for the City of Indian Wells and as assistant general counsel to the Valley-Wide Recreation and Park District and Santa Margarita Water District. In those roles, he advises on the Brown Act, Political Reform Act, Public Records Act, public contracting, elections and regulation of speech.
He has served as special counsel to dozens of cities and other public agencies in California on housing and development issues. He has served as editor of several chapters of the League of California Cities’ “Municipal Law Handbook.”
As special counsel to public agencies, Todd advises on strategies for regulating short-term rentals and other transitory lodgings, with an emphasis on how regulations may be applied to sober-living homes and other types of group homes. He also focuses on affordable housing issues, including inclusionary housing, density bonuses and accessory dwelling units. He ensures compliance under the federal Fair Housing Act Amendments, Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act and similar California laws. He has testified before Congress on sober-living home issues, spoken on short-term rentals and other transitory-lodging uses at the International Municipal Lawyers Association’s and League of California Cities’ conferences and was invited to publish an article on the issues in the California Bar Association’s Real Estate Section’s Real Property Journal.
In 2016, he received an Amicus Service Award from IMLA for his amicus brief to the California Appellate Court in Lamar Central Outdoor v. City of Los Angeles. On behalf of IMLA and the American Planning Association, Leishman’s brief supported the City’s position that its ban on offsite billboards, including alterations of existing signs or any with digital displays, was lawful. The Second District Court of Appeal reversed a lower court ruling and sided with the City.
Todd volunteers his time to help victims of violent crime secure U Visas and as a leader with the Boy Scouts of America.
He lives in Claremont with his wife and three children where they enjoy hiking as a family. He also enjoys literature, architecture and trail running.
- Urban Land Institute
- J. Reuben Clark Law Society
- Boy Scouts of America
- Municipal Law Handbook for the City Attorneys’ Department of the League of California Cities, 2019-2023
- "AB 881 et al: ADU Laws," Daily Journal New Laws Supplement, Jan. 8, 2020
- "Planning, Zoning, and Development Law: What's New from California's Judicial and Legislative Branches?" UCLA Extension’s Annual Land Use Law & Planning Conference, Jan. 21, 2022
- "Navigating New Laws Such as SB 330 and SB 9," Argent Communications Group's California Land Use Law & Policy Conference, Nov. 18, 2021
- "Planning, Zoning and Development Law: What's New from California's Judicial and Legislative Branches," UCLA Extension Public Policy Program’s Annual Land Use Law & Planning Conference, Jan. 8, 2021
- "Transit Oriented Development: Taking Advantage of Rail Stations, Ferry Terminals and Transit Nodes," Argent Communications Group California Land Use & Policy Annual Conference, Nov. 20, 2020
- "Housing Law Update," League of California Cities Annual Conference , Oct. 8, 2020
- "Sober Living Facilities," International Municipal Lawyers Association Webinar, Mar. 8, 2018
- "Hotels in the Neighborhood: How Municipalities are Addressing Airbnb Vacation Rentals, Group Homes and Other Transitory-Lodging Uses into Residential Districts," International Municipal Lawyers Association Annual Conference, Oct. 17, 2017
- "Short-Term Rentals: Burdens and Opportunities," BB&K Webinar, Apr. 27, 2017
- "Sober-Living Homes in Orange County," Regional Town Hall Meeting, May 12, 2016