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Steven E. Otto


Thorough and creative with a knack for delivering insightful solutions, Steven has a wealth of experience and consistently produces successful results.  He partners with his clients to better understand their situations and uses a creative, solutions-oriented approach to help structure their deals and navigate difficult situations. 

Steven's expertise with major projects spans the acquisition, development, leasing, licensing and sale of office, industrial and retail portfolios, power plants (both traditional and renewable energy sources) and mixed-use office/retail projects.  In addition, he has negotiated master developer and merchant builder agreements as well as private party development agreements for retail shopping complexes and residential developments.  His clients have included international firms and public companies, REITs, developers and private joint ventures, and he has played a key role supporting one of the largest nuclear power generating sites in the country.

With special expertise in assisting clients in the energy sector, he draws on his engineering degree from the United States Naval Academy as well as his military service to supply multidisciplinary knowledge to help ensure successful outcomes in technically complex matters. 

Prior to joining CGS3, Steven was a partner at Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps, LLP (now part of Dentons).  He also practiced at Latham & Watkins LLP. 

Notable Deals/Cases

  • Represented casino client in negotiations with direct competitors for the joint development of a Las Vegas entertainment venue. The negotiations involved resolution of complex issues including conflicting plans and goals for access routes, branding, customer acquisition technology, and use restrictions for the venue.
  • Conducted diligence review of the proposed site for an $850-million, gas-fired power plant in the California desert. Developed a plan for acquisition of the site’s real estate ownership interests and associated access and easement rights balancing the demands of the site, the interests of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and the varied interests of owners.
  • Negotiated real estate aspects of the sale of a city-owned power generating plant to a third-party operator, with the city retaining ownership interest in the adjacent switchyard. Steven’s combination of legal and technical expertise identified several issues resulting in increased revenue for the client.
  • Negotiated key agreements and development documents for client’s development of complex mixed-use project in Northern California involving two national big-box retailers.
  • Represented developer in numerous multi-million-dollar acquisitions of distressed residential development properties in California and Arizona. Helped client to resurrect projects and complete entitlements.
  • Represented long-time San Diego master developer in the sale of entitled land, blue-topped and finished lots, in several phases of the development to merchant builders.


  • Recipient, “Best Lawyers in America – San Diego, Real Estate Law,” The Best Lawyers in America (2023-2024)
  • Recipient, “Leaders of Influence in Commercial Real Estate,” San Diego Business Journal (2024)
  • Recipient, “Leaders in Law” Recipient, San Diego Business Journal (2023)
  • Recipient, “Top Attorneys in San Diego,” The American Registry (2023)
  • Recipient, “Best Lawyers” Recipient, SD Metro Magazine (2023)
  • Recipient, “Top Influential Veteran Business Leaders,” San Diego Business Journal (2023)


  • J.D., The George Washington University Law School
  • M.B.A., University of California, San Diego (UCSD), Rady School of Management
  • B.S., General Engineering, United States Naval Academy
  • State of Maryland, Engineering EIT Certificate

Bar Admissions

  • California
  • District of Columbia (inactive)


  • NAIOP, San Diego Chapter
  • Lambda Alpha International (LAI)
  • UCSD Rady Network/Alumni Association
  • U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association
  • The State Bar of California, Real Property Section Executive Committee (2004-2006)
Steven E. Otto