Throughout 2022
Public Advocates celebrated its history
as a social justice leader

The First 50 YearsMilestones Making Rights Real

Celebrating Public Advocates' history as a social justice leader

Explore stories of the people who created Public Advocates and continue to build its 50-year legacy of social justice.
All Stories


Founders: The Beginning







  • 1970-1973

    TOOR v. U.S. Dept of Housing & Urban Development

    This lawsuit, filed by Public Advocates, stopped displacement of over...
  • 1971

    Counting the Unseen: Correcting the 1970 Census

    As the time for the 1970 census drew near, Public...
  • 1971

    Incorporation of Public Advocates Inc.

    Public Advocates’ four founders – Bob Gnaizda, Anthony Kline, Sid...
  • 1971

    First case initiated by Public Advocates

    La Raza Unida & The Sierra Club v. Volpe resulted...
  • 1971

    NAACP v. Reagan

    This omnibus suit charged racial discrimination in employment, housing, education,...
  • 1971

    Western Addition Community Organization (WACO) & NAACP v. Alioto

    This successful constitutional challenge to the San Francisco Fire Department’s...
  • 1971-1978

    Serrano v. Priest I, II, III and IV

    This landmark lawsuit involving four separate State Supreme Court decisions...
  • 1971

    Larry P. v. Riles

    For decades, thousands of African American students in California public...
  • 1973 – 2011

    Officers for Justice v. SF Civil Service Commission (and related cases)

    Public Advocates launched this class action civil rights lawsuit in...
  • 1978

    Bracco v. Lackner

    Public Advocates filed this challenge to a nursing home operator’s...
  • 1980

    Greenlining Takes First Action – Banking

    In its first action, the Greenline Coalition threatened to file...
  • 1983

    Petition to reduce the incidents of low birth rates and resultant infant mortality

    This Administrative Petition was filed by Public Advocates in June...
  • 1984

    Consumers Union & Black Women Organized for Political Action in Oakland v. Wells Fargo

    This lawsuit filed by Public Advocates stemmed from early staff...
  • 1985

    King v. Meese

    King v. Meese, filed by Public Advocates in 1985, charged...
  • 1985

    HomeBase launched to challenge homelessness in the Bay Area

    In 1985, Public Advocates initiated a project to address the...
  • 1986

    Massive refund to Pacific Bell telephone customers misled by the company

    ​In 1986, the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) ordered Pacific...
  • 1992

    Latino Coalition for a Healthy California (LCHC) Founded

    In 1992, Carmela Castellano-Garcia, then a staff attorney with Public...
  • 1992

    Association of Mexican American Educators v. State of California

    In 1992, Public Advocates sued California on behalf of 50,000...
  • 1997

    Yvette Doe, et al. v. Kim Belshé

    In December of 1997, a judge in Alameda County blocked...
  • 1997

    Underserved California communities win huge benefits under PUC approval of Pacific Telesis – SBC merger

    In 1997, Public Advocates managing attorney Mark Savage represented several...
  • 1998

    Spanish Speaking Citizens’ Foundation v. Quackenbush

    In this 1998 lawsuit, Spanish Speaking Citizens’ Foundation v. Quackenbush,...
  • 2000

    Williams v. California

    Eliezer Williams, 6th grade student at San Francisco’s Luther Burbank...
  • 2004

    State Farm v. Garamendi

    Following oral argument on February 11, 2004, a unanimous California...
  • 2005

    Darensburg v. Metropolitan Transportation Commission

    Beginning in 2005, Public Advocates represented a class of AC...
  • 2006

    Urban Habitat v. City of Pleasanton

    Public Advocates brought suit against the City of Pleasanton in...
  • 2009

    Urban Habitat v. BART Oakland Airport Connector Campaign

    In 2009, when BART proposed the construction of a connector...
  • 2019

    “A Law Firm Like no Other” Public Advocates on Public Television

    In May of 2019, Public Advocates was profiled by the long-standing PBS series, Visionaries, hosted by Sam Waterston. The show, “A Law Firm Like no...
  • 2010

    Campaign for Quality Education (CQE) v. California

    CQE v. CA​ was a state constitutional challenge to the underfunding of CA’s public schools. The challenge came from an unprecedented coalition, Public Advocates, community-based...
  • 2010

    The 6 Wins for Social Equity Network

    Public Advocates was one of the creators, and is still one of the leading members, of the 6 Wins for Social Equity Network, a bold...
  • 2011

    The Equity, Environment & Jobs Scenario for regional planning

    In 2011, the 6 Wins for Social Equity Network developed a proposal for the Bay Area’s regional agencies to consider as they planned for decades...
  • 2013

    Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF)

    In a major step towards greater educational equity, on July 1, 2013,  California passed Local Control Funding Formula legislation creating a new education finance system,...
  • 2014

    Climate investments bring major benefits to low-income communities of color

    Beginning in 2014, carbon cap-and-trade auction revenues brought billions of dollars each year into California’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. Public Advocates, in coalition with climate...
  • 2015

    Community Coalition & Reyna Frias v. LAUSD

    On July 11, 2015 Public Advocates filed lawsuit on behalf of parent Reyna Frias and the Community Coalition of South Los Angeles against the Los...
  • 2016

    Facebook Community Benefits Agreement with East Palo Alto

    Public Advocates, the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Northern California, and PolicyLink represented four community organizations in East Palo Alto in raising cutting-edge legal...
  • 2017

    Housing Now! Founded and Passage of Tenant Protection Act AB 1482

    In 2017, Public Advocates co-founded Housing Now!—a coalition dedicated to winning ​housing justice and to holding state decision makers accountable to the community by seeking,...
  • 2017

    Alliance for Housing Justice (AHJ)

    AHJ was formed in 2017 following the 2016 presidential election that put Donald Trump into the White House. The coalition, made up of Public Advocates,...
  • 2018

    Fair Housing Protection Law in California AB 686

    In 2017, among other assaults on the rights of people of color and others,  the Trump administration moved quickly to gut a critical portion of...
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