Somach Simmons and Dunn, Attorneys at Law Somach Simmons & Dunn | Attorneys at Law



  • University of California, Davis, King Hall School of Law (J.D., 1996)
  • Harvard University (A.B., 1988, magna cum laude)


  • California

Kelley M. Taber
Of Counsel

Clients turn to Kelley Taber to get practical, cost-effective solutions to environmental compliance and natural resource challenges. She helps public entities, developers, farmers, manufacturers, and other types of companies move projects forward, doing so in a manner that is at once compliant with law, environmentally responsible and meets an organization’s strategic goals.

Kelley has devoted much of her law practice to expertly navigating the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and state and federal Endangered Species Acts. The projects she advances are as diverse as wastewater treatment plants, active adult retirement communities and the responsible administration of vector control programs. She is brought in to work with clients and their experts to solve environmental problems in ways that are efficient in both time and cost.

Some of her most interesting work occurs on matters where legal and scientific issues are uncertain. She can quickly identify areas in question and demonstrate ways the environment and client interests will be protected while solutions are implemented. Throughout her career in environmental permitting, she has followed advances in science, changes in policy and the ways the courts react to those factors. Her practice continues to grow to address evolving scientific and policy areas, such as groundwater management and multi-species habitat conservation planning.

Outside of work she spends time with her family—one she describes as a “baseball family in all ways.” A leader in community organizations, she has served as president of the area’s largest Little League for several years—a role that has helped her to enjoy the game even more. She has also been a longtime trustee of Sacramento Country Day School, serving as Board President for many years.

Representative Matters

Endangered Species and Wetlands

Assisted family-owned and operated cattle ranch in obtaining the first National Marine Fisheries Service Safe Harbor Agreement and Enhancement of Survival Permit in connection with dedication of pre-1914 water rights to benefit coho salmon in Siskiyou County, providing regulatory assurances and ensuring the long-term sustainability of historic ranching operation.

Represent the City of San Bernardino Municipal Water Department in obtaining a Low Effect Habitat Conservation Plan in connection with providing a supplemental water supply for the benefit of the Santa Ana sucker in the Santa Ana River.

Successfully defended development of eco-adventure resort on San Mateo County coast from federal Endangered Species Act challenge, obtaining favorable verdict in federal district court bench trial.

Advised the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation on compliance with the state and federal Endangered Species Acts related to development of the Kern County at Delano II State Prison.

Land Use

Represented applicant in securing General Plan amendments, rezone, adoption of Specific Plan and associated local, state and federal entitlements and permits, as well as ensuring CEQA and NEPA compliance, for 2,500-unit mixed use active adult community in Fresno County.

Assisted developer of eco-adventure resort on San Mateo County coast with processing and implementation of entitlements from San Mateo County, California Coastal Commission.

Natural Resources

As counsel to Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District, provide ongoing advice regarding CEQA compliance for District activities relating to the conveyance, treatment and disposal of wastewater. Worked extensively with District staff and consultant team to develop comprehensive EIR and extensive supporting technical data evaluating the state’s largest discharge of treated wastewater to a surface water body.

Advised nine Northern California mosquito and vector control agencies in development of comprehensive programmatic environmental impact reports for integrated mosquito and vector control programs.

Representing plastic pipe manufacturers, worked closely with staff of California Building Standards Commission and consultant team to develop and complete environmental impact report for adoption of controversial statewide regulations authorizing the use of plastic pipe and defended CEQA challenge to the adoption of regulations. The extensive environmental analysis involved detailed consideration of potential health risks from chemical leaching into drinking water.

Successfully defended CEQA challenge to Lucasfilm’s proposed expansion of Skywalker Ranch in Marin County.

Successfully defended CEQA challenges to development of eco-adventure coastal resort on San Mateo County coast.

Water Resources

Lead counsel for public agency and irrigation district petitioners in complex coordinated litigation challenging the California WaterFix EIR/EIS and WaterFix revenue bonds.

Represent developers in the Santa Nella Community Specific Plan, Merced County, in the acquisition of water supply for 1,600 residential units and mixed use development.

Represent the City of San Bernardino Municipal Water Department in water rights and endangered species permitting for a wastewater recycling and groundwater recharge project including successful resolution of protests to wastewater change petition and CEQA litigation.

Represented Conaway Preservation Group in partial assignment of Sacramento River Settlement Contract to Woodland Davis Clean Water Agency, including resolution of protests to state water rights permit proceedings.


Successfully represented major national food processor in defense of threatened federal debarment through development of comprehensive environmental compliance program.

On behalf of one of the largest U.S. poultry processors, negotiated settlement with U.S. EPA of threatened litigation under federal Emergency and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA), including significant reduction in penalties through development and approval of Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs).

Represented steel products manufacturer in defense of threatened EPCRA lawsuit, avoiding litigation by successfully negotiating favorable settlement with U.S. EPA, including major reduction in penalties.

Represented major Central Valley dairy, negotiated settlement with U.S. EPA of threatened EPCRA litigation, resulting in substantial reduction in penalties.


  • University of California, Davis, King Hall School of Law (J.D., 1996)
  • Harvard University (A.B., 1988, magna cum laude)


  • California