Jeffrey T. Harlan


Jeffrey Harlan focuses his land use and zoning practice on sustainable development, environmental design, public policy, and strategic planning. Jeffrey brings a unique perspective to challenging land use and regulatory problems in California, shaped by his experience as a local elected official, planning director for a state land conservancy, and a private planning consultant. He draws on his varied background to provide counsel to real estate developers and property owners on all aspects of development, from due diligence and entitlement processing to community engagement and litigation strategies.

Elected in 2020, Jeffrey is a city councilmember for the City of Costa Mesa, California. Previously, he served on the city's planning commission for four years as the vice chair. Jeffrey began his public service over two decades ago as the deputy for District and Environmental Policy to Los Angeles City Councilmember Ruth Galanter, where he focused on local planning issues, 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 in bond funding for the creation of a 1,400-acre park in Los Angeles. Jeffrey gained considerable experience working 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.


Government Experience

  • City Councilmember, City of Costa Mesa, California
  • Planning Commissioner, City of Costa Mesa, California
  • Planning Director, Baldwin Hills Conservancy
  • Deputy for District and Environmental Policy, City of Los Angeles Councilmember Ruth Galanter
  • Volunteer Deputy City Attorney, Environmental Protection Section, City of Los Angeles

Representative Matters

  • Helped secure entitlements for a new 200-unit luxury apartment complex (replacing an outdated 236-unit motel) in Costa Mesa, which includes the provision of nine units of affordable housing and relocation assistance for long-term occupants. Defended against lawsuits by the tenant advocacy organization and adjacent property owner, and negotiated settlement agreements with both parties
  • Defended against three lawsuits by a community organization against the developer of a 28-unit artist work/live project (including nine 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 the Commission. Successfully argued before the City Council and Planning Commission to sustain the effective date of permits and prevent expiration
  • Negotiated a settlement with the City of Pomona on behalf of a 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 operation 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 in City-funded capital improvement projects




  • J.D. Vermont Law School
    • Emphasis on environmental and land use law
  • B.A. Design of the Environment University of Pennsylvania 1993

Bar Admissions

  • California