Howard Gest: (213) 629-8787
David Burhenn: (213) 629-8788

David W. Burhenn

Bar Admission

  • State Bar of California, 1982

Court Admissions

  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, Central District of California
  • U.S. District Court, Southern District of California
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of California


  • J.D., University of Michigan Law School, 1982
  • A.B., University of Michigan

Professional and community

  • Chair, Los Angeles County Bar Association, Environmental Law Section, 1994-95


  • Executive Editor, Vol. 82, Michigan Law Review
  • Recipient, Jason L. Honigman Award
  • Super Lawyers, Southern California
  • 1979 Michigan upi Sports Writing Award, CO-1st Place Winner

David Burhenn is a graduate of the University of Michigan and the University of Michigan Law School, where he was an Executive Editor of the Michigan Law Review and a co-recipient of the Jason L. Honigman Award. Mr. Burhenn is also a former reporter for the Grand Rapids Press.

Mr. Burhenn has practiced environmental law since 1983 and in that time has worked on a broad spectrum of matters, including air and water quality permitting, air and water quality administrative enforcement, environmental litigation in federal and state court, the environmental aspects of business transactions (property purchase/due diligence), general business litigation and administrative hearings. His work has involved the Clean Water Act, the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Act, the Clean Air Act, Proposition 65, CERCLA and RCRA (and state cognate laws) and CEQA. He represents several large Southern California municipalities in a variety of matters related to water quality issues and state unfunded mandates.

Mr. Burhenn was Chair of the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Environmental Law Section in 1995-96 and more recently has served on the Section’s Executive Committee in a variety of capacities. He has spoken at numerous seminars on issues relating to environmental law, most recently with respect to water quality and regulatory issues, has written articles on varied environmental law topics and was the co-editor of the first and second editions of the California Environmental Law Handbook. Prior to forming Burhenn & Gest, Mr. Burhenn was a partner in the Los Angeles office of Sidley & Austin, now Sidley Austin LLP.

Representative matters Mr. Burhenn has handled include:

1. Water Quality Issues. Representation of municipal clients on development of municipal stormwater permits by four regional water boards acting under federal and California law; representation of municipal clients concerning dredge and fill requirements under Clean Water Act sections 401 and 404; advice to municipal and private clients on federal and state permit terms and requirements; representation of municipal clients on administrative petitions challenging permit terms; representation of municipal clients with respect to development and adoption of Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs); and representation of municipal and private clients in enforcement actions brought by regional water boards.

2. Environmental Litigation and Administrative Actions. Representation of municipal clients in federal citizens’ suit challenging compliance with Clean Water Act; representation of municipal clients in lawsuit involving amendment to municipal stormwater permit; defense of two Administrative Civil Liability complaints brought by separate regional water boards; representation of private client in multi-party litigation arising from groundwater contamination by chlorinated hydrocarbons; representation of private client in action challenging Coastal Commission approval of beach access way; and representation of municipal clients in CEQA challenge to program to address metals in the Los Angeles River.

3. CERCLA. Representation of private clients at federal and California Superfund sites, including negotiation of the resolution of clients’ liability.

4. CERCLA. Provision of advice to clients regarding scope and nature of CERCLA liability, including with respect to successor corporations, defunct corporations, partnerships and financial institutions.

5. Unfunded State Mandates. Representation of municipalities in the Counties of Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and Orange in four test claims involving unfunded state mandates arising from municipal stormwater permits; obtaining parameters & guidelines issued for mandates arising from municipal stormwater permits; provision of advice to municipal clients concerning unfunded mandates jurisprudence.

6. Air Quality Issues. Representation of private clients before the South Coast Air Quality Management District, including variance proceedings, orders for abatement, appeal of RECLAIM emission allocations, inclusion in the RECLAIM program and Title V air permitting programs; provision of assistance to clients in preparing Title V air permit applications; representation of client in California Air Resources Board penalty action involving product formulation; and provision of advice to clients on requirements of federal and California clean air laws and regulations.

7. Environmental/Land Use Compliance Issues. Representation of clients regarding environmental and land use compliance issues, including advice on California and federal hazardous waste laws, California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the federal Endangered Species Act, Proposition 65 and community right-to-know laws, and on California and federal release reporting and water quality laws.

8. Environmental Aspects of Business Transactions. Coordination of due diligence and advice to clients on the environmental aspects of properties to be purchased or to serve as loan collateral, advice on the environmental compliance status of to-be-acquired companies, including transactions involving multiple properties located across the United States; and representation of corporate clients and lending institutions in a variety of business transactions, including advice on environmental liability issues and environmental conditions.

9. Property Cleanup Issues. Representation of industrial client in matter involving alleged contamination of formerly owned property and negotiation of settlement; representation of client in negotiations with Department of Toxic Substances Control over terms of consent agreement to remediate industrial facility contamination; representation of client to obtain cleanup responsibility by predecessor owner; and representation of clients in matters arising from underground storage tank releases or removals, including the negotiation of cost-sharing agreement to share remediation costs.