Jeffrey Harlan is Of Counsel in the Land Use and Real Estate Departments.
Jeff has spent the past 22 years working as an attorney and land use planner, specializing in sustainable development, environmental design, public policy, and strategic planning. He brings a unique perspective to challenging land use and regulatory problems in California, shaped by his experience as a deputy to an elected official, planning director for a state land conservancy, and as a private consultant. Because of Jeff’s varied background, real estate developers and property owners look to him for counsel about all aspects of development, from due diligence and entitlement processing to community engagement and litigation strategies.
Beginning his legal career at the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, Environmental Protection Section, Jeff then served as the Deputy for District and Environmental Policy to Los Angeles City Councilmember Ruth Galanter, focusing on local planning issues and citywide sustainable development and smart growth initiatives and legislation. He also served as the Planning Director for the Baldwin Hills Conservancy, where he developed planning and implementing strategies to administer $40 million of bond funding for the creation of a 1,400-acre park in Los Angeles. For the next decade, Jeff worked at various private planning consultancies on a range of projects across the country. He has led and managed city general plan updates, habitat restoration plans, mitigation and conservation bank assessments, and strategic planning of land portfolios. Jeff was Of Counsel at Sklar Kirsh where he concentrated on land use law, planning initiatives, and code compliance.
Jeff earned his B.A. in Design of the Environment from the University of Pennsylvania and his J.D. from Vermont Law School, with an emphasis on environmental and land use law. An early advocate for green building and co-founder of the US Green Building Council’s Los Angeles Chapter, Jeff is a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Accredited Professional.
Since moving to Orange County 13 years ago, Jeff has been actively involved in community engagement and civic affairs. He is the Vice Chairman of the City of Costa Mesa Planning Commission, a former board member of the nonprofit Costa Mesa Community Foundation, and a graduate of Orange County’s Leadership Tomorrow program. He also wrote a weekly column for the Los Angeles Times’ Daily Pilot newspaper.
- Helped secure entitlements for a new 224-unit luxury apartment complex (replacing an outdated 236-unit motel) in Costa Mesa, which includes the provision of 20 units of affordable housing and relocation assistance for long-term occupants. Defended lawsuits by tenant advocacy organization and adjacent property owner, and negotiated settlement agreements with both parties.
- Defended three lawsuits by community organization against developer of 28-unit artist work/live project (including 9 designated affordable units) in Laguna Beach, which resulted in upholding approvals by the California Coastal Commission and City of Laguna Beach. Prepared strategy for consideration of opponents’ appeal (which was denied), and secured unanimous project approval by Commission. Successfully argued before City Council and Planning Commission to sustain effective date of permits and prevent expiration.
- Negotiated settlement with City of Pomona on behalf of property owner who challenged the unauthorized use of an easement for the provision of wireless communication facilities.
- Processed one of the first Accessory Dwelling Unit applications in the City of Los Angeles.
- Led the strategic long-term planning and supported the legal analysis for the redevelopment of a 185-acre brownfield in New Jersey. Advised legal counsel about long-term site stewardship and public access risk management strategies for the site, including the 50-acre wetland restoration area.
- Assessed ecosystem marketplace opportunities, analyzed development potential, and developed conceptual visions and site designs for a suite of former energy operations sites on California’s Central Coast.
- Managed or contributed to the General Plan Updates for the cities of Clovis, Ontario, and San Clemente.
- Managed the City of Irvine Climate Action Plan/Sustainable Operations Strategic Plan, the first municipal effort in Orange County to address climate change impacts on the community and municipal operations.
- Led the consultant team for the City of Los Angeles Sustainable Building Initiative, a 5-year action plan to promote sustainable design practices in $1 billion of City-funded capital improvement projects.