Marco A. Gonzalez


Marco Gonzalez is a cofounder and Managing Partner of Coast Law Group LLP, where he oversees the firm’s Environment & Land Use, Government Relations, and Election Law practice area groups. Marco also co-chairs CLG’s Action Sports group.

In addition to recognition as a “San Diego Super Lawyer” in 2008 and 2009, Marco was one of ten attorneys awarded the San Diego Daily Transcript’s “Top Attorney” designation in its multi-disciplinary Transcript 10 category for 2011.

Widely regarded for his leadership in the environmental arena, Marco has successfully negotiated and litigated complex disputes on behalf of numerous non-profit environmental organizations and community groups throughout California. As the founder and executive director of the Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation (CERF), Marco is one of a small handful of activist attorneys taking on high-profile and publicly controversial matters such as fireworks displays over water, inappropriately sited desalination facilities, statewide septic system regulation, and irresponsible highway widening projects.  In political matters, Marco advises progressive candidates and elected officials on environmental and campaign issues at the local, regional, and state levels.

While best known for his environmental protection practice, Marco also has extensive experience representing responsible developers and small businesses in land use entitlement matters. With more than 15 years spent fighting development projects, clients are sometimes surprised to find out Marco has successfully entitled major hotel developments, marina expansions, residential subdivisions, and industrial/commercial facilities. Marco is one of very few San Diego attorneys respected by community, business, labor, and governmental stakeholders to drive collaborative land use and development processes to regulatory approval. Examples of successful approvals of large scale multi-party projects include the Chula Vista Bayfront Master Plan and City of San Diego Water Reuse Study.

Throughout the County, Marco also represents restaurants, bars, and nightclubs seeking permits and permit modifications from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

In addition to his efforts in these areas, Marco provides business consulting, transactional, and litigation support to established corporations, start-up companies, film makers, and professional athletes involved in the surfing, skateboarding, snowboarding, and cycling industries. Outside of his CLG efforts, Marco owns and manages an Action Sports design studio and marketing firm, PRJCT LLC.

Prior to founding CLG, Marco was the Senior Attorney with San Diego Baykeeper (now “Coastkeeper”), an environmental organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of coastal resources throughout San Diego County. He was also the founder and director of the San Diego Baykeeper Environmental Law & Policy Clinic and Chairman/Legal Counsel for the Surfrider Foundation, San Diego Chapter.

Marco is a frequent lecturer at universities and conferences on a diverse array of environmental issues such as Clean Water Act enforcement, desalination, land use and planning/smart growth, transit and transportation, coastal armoring and seawall policy, the role of non-governmental organizations in environmental enforcement, and Mexico-U.S. border water quality.

Marco’s focus on environmental issues began with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in biology and environmental studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz (1992). After pursuing graduate studies in conservation biology at San Francisco State University (1993), Marco achieved his Juris Doctor from Northwestern School of Law at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon (1997). He was shortly thereafter admitted to the California Bar.

When not working on cases and managing CLG, Marco can often be found surfing alternative board designs at Cardiff Reef or mountain biking local trails around North San Diego County. Marco currently resides in Encinitas with his wife and two young children.

Extremely active in the legal, political, and environmental communities, Marco’s professional associations include:

• California State Bar, Environmental/Land Use Section, 1997 -
• San Diego County Bar Association, Environmental/Land Use Section, 1997-
• Surfrider Foundation, San Diego Chapter

  • Vice-Chairman, 1998, 2003
  • Chairman, 1999-2002
  • Advisory Board Founder, Chairman & Legal Coordinator, 2004-2007

• State of California, AB 982 Public Advisory Group (TMDL Policy)
• State of California, Desalination Task Force

  • Environmental Community/Surfrider Foundation Representative

• San Diego Bay Council, Co-founder and Legal Advisor
• San Diego Baykeeper Environmental Law and Policy Clinic

  • Co-founder and Director, 2000-2004
  • Senior Attorney and Advisor, 2004-2010

• California Western School of Law, Pro Bono Honors Program Mentor
• California State Bar, Environmental Negotiations Competition Mentor
• Progressive San Diego, Founding Trustee
• Past and present environmental clients include:

  • Surfrider Foundation
  • San Diego Coastkeeper
  • San Diego League of Conservation Voters
  • Vote the Coast
  • Save Our Forest and Ranchlands
  • Cleveland National Forest Foundation
  • Heal the Ocean
  • Heal the Bay
  • Environmental Health Coalition
  • Keep the North Shore Country
  • Santa Monica Bay Restoration Foundation
  • Citizens for Responsible Equitable Environmental Development
  • Planning and Conservation League
  • Sierra Club
  • Center for Biological Diversity
  • San Diegans for Open Government
  • San Diego Affordable Housing Coalition

• Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation

  • Founder and Legal Director, 2008 –

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