Arielle O. Harris

Arielle O. Harris


Arielle O. Harris


Arielle Harris has developed a successful practice advising public and private clients on a wide range of land use and natural resource matters.

Arielle helps both private clients and public agencies navigate a broad array of environmental regulations in conjunction with local, state, and federal permitting for a wide range of projects including residential and commercial development, renewable energy projects, groundwater extraction, water right permits, wastewater infrastructure, and surface mining and marine sand mining operations.

Arielle also provides litigation and advisory services to private clients and public agencies with an emphasis on California planning and zoning laws, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the public trust doctrine, endangered species, wetlands jurisdiction, as well as federal and state laws governing protection of historic and cultural resources.  She regularly assists public agencies and applicants with preparation of environmental review documents under CEQA and NEPA, including strategy regarding the use of exemptions, recirculation, and supplemental or subsequent environmental review; and advises clients through all stages of project planning, environmental review, and project approval.

Since its enactment in 2014, Arielle has been providing advisory services to several water districts and irrigation districts located within medium and high priority groundwater basins regarding implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).  She provides advisory services to these public agencies on issues concerning the formation of Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs), resolving overlapping GSA notices, and planning for the development of Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs).

Additionally, Arielle’s expertise also extends to a wide range of public agency law, including the Brown Act, the Public Records Act, the Political Reform Act, Proposition 218, and eminent domain and inverse condemnation.  Her current and former clients include cities and counties, water, irrigation and other special districts, commercial and residential developers, mining companies, and renewable energy firms.


Representative Litigation

  • Delaware Tetra Technologies, Inc. v. County of San Bernardino (2015) 247 Cal.App.4th 352; Center for Biological Diversity v. County of San Bernardino (2015) 247 Cal.App.4th 326.  Assisted in defense of County as responsible agency in a total of six coordinated actions challenging groundwater project under CEQA and the County’s Desert Groundwater Management Ordinance.  Prevailed at trial and on appeal on all claims in all six cases.  Two of the six Court of Appeal opinions were published.
  • Friends of the Kings River v. County of Fresno, Fresno Co. Sup. Ct. (2013).  Aided in representing the applicant in an action challenging the EIR for a surface mining permit and reclamation plan under CEQA and the Surface Mining and Reclamation Act.  The trial court denied the petition on all grounds.  On appeal, the Court of Appeal affirmed in full the trial court’s decision.
  • Masonite Corp. v. County of Mendocino (2013) 215 Cal.App.4th 230.  Assisted downstream landowner in challenging the County’s approval of an EIR for a sand and gravel terrace mine proposed to be located within the Russian River floodplain. Major issues on appeal included impacts on floodplain hydrology in the watershed, endangered fish and other sensitive aquatic species, agricultural resources, traffic, and the scope of project alternatives.  Prevailed on appeal.  On remand, secured a $450,000 award for attorneys’ fees under California’s private attorney general statute.
  • San Francisco Baykeeper v. Cal. State Lands Commission (2015) 242 Cal.App.4th 202.  Assisted in defense of applicants in action challenging State’s approval of lease extensions for sand mining operations under CEQA and the public trust doctrine.  The trial court action asserted claims under CEQA, including the environmental baseline, cumulative impacts, recirculation, thresholds of significance, and consultation with trustee agencies, as well as a claim under the common law public trust doctrine.  Prevailed on all CEQA claims at trial and on appeal.

Representative Water Projects

  • Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery, and Storage Project, County of San Bernardino.  Advised the County, a responsible agency, on evaluation and approval of groundwater pumping project in the Mojave Desert proposed to recover up to 50,000 acre feet of native groundwater annually over a 50-year period.  The plan was approved by the Board of Supervisors on October 1, 2012.
  • Camanche Permit Extension, Amador and Calaveras Counties.  Advised the East Bay Municipal Utility District, the state CEQA lead agency, on its application to the State Board for an extension of its permit to divert and store up to 125 million gallons per day (140,000 acre-feet per year) of surface water from the Mokelumne River for municipal purposes. The EIR was certified on September 23, 2014, and addressed numerous key issues including the appropriate environmental baseline, impact analysis, cumulative impacts, and alternatives.  The application is now pending before the State Board.

Representative Infrastructure, Real Estate Development, and Brownfields Redevelopment

  • California Department of Corrections (CDCR) Level II Correctional Facilities Project. Advised CDCR on environmental review, land use entitlements and permitting for its expansion of two state prison facilities.
  • Bridgeway Square Apartments, City of Rancho Cordova.  Assisted residential real estate developer on land use entitlements and supplemental environmental review under CEQA for 199-unit apartment building in the City of Rancho Cordova. 
  • Concord Naval Weapons Station, Contra Costa County.  Advising the East Bay Regional Park District on all land-use aspects of the transfer and reuse of approximately 2,200 acres of the former naval base, including remediation and land use controls, NEPA and CEQA compliance, and permitting and consultations under the Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, and federal and state laws governing historical and cultural resources.
  • VillaSport Project, City of Roseville.  Advising a commercial real estate developer and landowner on entitlements and CEQA review for a new athletic club and spa in the City of Roseville. 
  • Vista Grande Drainage Basin Improvement Project, San Francisco and San Mateo Counties.  Representing the City of Daly City on a joint environmental document  being prepared under CEQA and NEPA for a $120 million stormwater management and infrastructure project, including the replacement and enhancement of existing infrastructure, installation of constructed wetlands, and management of water levels within the historical lake basin.  Advising client on regulatory and permitting requirements for federal special use permits, land use entitlements, and federal and state permits associated with surface waters and wetlands, coastal development, and sovereign lands administered by the California State Lands Commission.

Representative Energy and Mining Projects

  • Lease and Permit Extensions for Bay and Western Delta Sand Mining, San Francisco, Solano, and Contra Costa Counties.  Advising two aggregate mining operators on all permits and entitlements for mining up to 1.35 million cubic yards of construction-grade alluvial sand annually from the San Francisco Bay, Suisun Bay, and western Delta.  Advised the clients on completion of the Project EIR with the California State Lands Commission and helped secure permits from the Bay Conservation and Development Commission and the Regional Water Quality Control Board. 
  • Photovoltaic Solar Project, Inyo County.  Advised public water and energy agency on an EIR for a 200 megawatt photovoltaic solar farm.
  • Distribution Station, Los Angeles County.  Advised public water and energy agency on CEQA compliance for an EIR for the construction of a new electrical power distribution station.
  • Photovoltaic Solar Project, Riverside County.  Advised a utility-scale solar developer with respect to NEPA and CEQA compliance and preparation and review of CEQA findings for its proposed 150-megawatt photovoltaic power plant.
  • Photovoltaic Solar Project, San Bernardino County.  Advised a utility-scale solar developer with respect to NEPA and CEQA compliance for its proposed 358-megawatt photo-voltaic power plant in unincorporated San Bernardino County.
  • Surface Mining Operation, Alameda County.  Advised a global building materials company on CEQA compliance, county permitting requirements, and streambed alteration agreements with respect to the amendment of its existing use permits for a 925-acre surface mining operation.

Professional, Community And Pro Bono Involvement

  • California Building Industry Association (CBIA)
  • CBIA Professional Women in Building (PWB)
  • Bay Planning Coalition, Committee Member
  • Bar Association of San Francisco Environmental Law Section, Executive Committee Member
  • Association of Women in Water, Energy, and the Environment (AWWEE)
  • California State Bar Environmental Law Section

Honors And Rankings

  • Sacramento Magazine, Top Lawyer, Environmental, Land Use/Zoning, 2017-2019
  • Hastings Snodgrass Moot Court Competition, First Place Best Brief, Second Place Overall (Oral and Brief)
  • CALI and Witkin Awards in Trial Advocacy and Appellate Advocacy

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