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Diana Varat

Of Counsel | Los Angeles

Overview

Drawing from her background in urban planning, Diana Varat has advised dozens of public agencies in California on complex land use matters. Diana has extensive experience preparing and reviewing general plan updates, specific plans, and zoning code amendments. She has drafted numerous ordinances to implement housing elements on topics including: accessory dwelling units, density bonuses, emergency shelters, transitional and supportive housing, and reasonable accommodations procedures.

As an expert in ethics laws, Diana helps public officials analyze potential conflicts of interest under the Political Reform Act and Government Code Section 1090. With her guidance, public officials have sought and received favorable advice from the Fair Political Practices Commission, allowing them to participate in agency decisions without violating California’s conflict of interest laws. Every year, Diana updates the firm’s Conflicts of Interest Handbook to help public officials navigate California’s complex conflict laws.   

In addition to her legal practice, Diana currently serves as a Lecturer in the Department of Urban Studies & Planning at California State University, Northridge.  At CSUN, she currently teaches a course on “The Legal Foundations of Planning.” Since 2013, Diana also has served as a Lecturer in the Department of Urban Planning at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, where she has taught courses on urbanization in the U.S. and the development of Los Angeles. In 2017, she advised a group of UCLA students in preparing their final project for the Masters degree, analyzing the community impacts of the LA River revitalization process along the Lower LA River. 

Work for Clients

Diana previously served as the Assistant City Attorney for the cities of Agoura Hills and Manhattan Beach.  In her role as Of Counsel to the firm, Diana now focuses on conflicts of interest questions and complex land use and planning projects for numerous cities, including Beverly Hills, Calimesa, La Habra, Norwalk, Rancho Cucamonga, San Marino, Temecula, and Yucaipa.

Professional Experience

Before embarking on her law degree, Diana worked for the City Planning Department for the City of Dresden, Germany. Between 2001 and 2003, Diana served as the Project Associate for the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars’ Comparative Urban Studies Project in Washington, D.C.

Honors & Awards

American Planning Association, Planning & Law Division Fellowship, 2006

Professional and Community Affiliations

Member, American Planning Association

Vice-Director of Policy, 2010-2012, APA-LA

Member, Los Angeles County Bar Association

News

Presentations

Since 2013, as part of a program organized by the LA Chapter of the American Planning Association, Diana has provided an annual training on “Planning Law” for professionals preparing for the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) exam. 

Publications

Education

J.D., University of California, Los Angeles School of Law

M.A., Urban Planning, University of California, Los Angeles

B.A., University of California, Berkeley

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Richards, Watson & Gershon delivers practical advice and solutions tailored to the unique needs of public entities. Working seamlessly across offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Orange County, Temecula and the Central Coast, our dedicated team of experts provides the full scope of public law services.

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