Environmental Planning + Compliance

Can your environmental documentation survive legal scrutiny? Today's budgets and timelines leave no room for error. With in-depth knowledge of CEQA and NEPA, we deliver rigorous, objective analysis supported by substantial evidence.

Harris & Associates' Environmental Planning + Compliance team is anchored by experienced directors with a shared passion for delivering quality work products and building an outstanding team. The team's expertise includes California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance, project management, impact assessment, and technical writing. The staff has earned an esteemed reputation for providing high-quality, legally defensible documents that are easily understood by the general public.

Specialized Expertise

Harris' staff has experience with a wide range of planning, development, and infrastructure projects, from small residential infill and utility replacements to large master planned communities, creek restoration projects, and new roadways. As such, our experience includes program-level, tiered, and project-specific documentation. To support environmental documentation, Harris also prepares technical studies for air quality/greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, biological resources, and noise. For air quality, these include air quality/climate change analyses, health risk assessments, and toxic emissions inventories.  For biology, these include Endangered Species Act compliance, habitat conservation plans, and restoration plans. We understand that each project and lead agency is unique and Harris is adept at adjusting project management styles and work approaches to provide the most effective and efficient environmental documentation process possible.

Legally Defensible Documentation

Most importantly, Harris provides legally defensible documents. Our environmental staff have worked on many controversial projects, some of which have been subject to challenges. To withstand legal challenges, our staff works to identify environmental concerns and issues early in the process; strategize with the client and coordinate with responsible agencies/stakeholders; and confirm the issues are thoroughly addressed with substantial evidence in the environmental document. Scoping meetings and outreach are a vital tool for identifying potential legal issues on a controversial project.

Quality Control and Peer Reviews

Harris is also experienced with providing quality control reviews of environmental documents and technical reports, including all subconsultant reports and applicant-prepared reports. Because much of the environmental documentation relies on technical reports and the provision of adequate substantial evidence, the Harris quality control review process focuses on confirming technical reports include sound methodology, compliance with relevant regulations, and support for conclusions in the environmental document.



Related People

Michael McCormick, AICP

Michael McCormick, AICP

Division President / Strategic Advisory Services (SAS)

Diane Sandman, AICP

Diane Sandman, AICP

Senior Director / Environmental Planning + Compliance

Ryan Binns, ENV SP

Ryan Binns, ENV SP

Director / Environmental Planning + Compliance

Kristin Blackson

Kristin Blackson

Senior CEQA Project Manager / Environmental Planning + Compliance

Kate Giberson

Kate Giberson

Director / Environmental Planning + Compliance



Statement of Qualifications



Envision® Sustainable Infrastructure Rating System

Envision Charter Member

Harris & Associates is a proud charter member of the Envision® sustainable infrastructure rating system. This system provides a holistic framework for evaluating and rating the community, environmental, and economic benefits of all types and sizes of infrastructure projects.

  • Environmental Constraints Analysis

    Environmental Constraints Analysis

    Drawing on years of experience consulting on all types of projects throughout the western United States, our team excels at identifying environmental issues and potential permit requirements to inform project design and the scope of environmental review.

  • Environmental Constraints Analysis

    Drawing on years of experience consulting on all types of projects throughout the western United States, our team excels at identifying environmental issues and potential permit requirements to inform project design and the scope of environmental review.

  • CEQA Compliance

    CEQA Compliance

    Regardless of project size, the Harris Team thoroughly evaluates all potential environmental impacts, from aesthetics to utilities and everything in between. We carefully follow the requirements of the CEQA Statutes and Guideline and thoroughly document our findings. Every decision is made with the administrative record in mind. We also represent our clients in city council meetings to answer questions related to the environmental analysis. Specific types of CEQA documents include:

    • Categorical Exemption
    • Initial Study (IS)
    • Negative Declaration and Mitigated Negative Declaration (ND/MND)
    • Environmental Impact Report (EIR)
    • Mitigation, Monitoring, and Reporting Plan
    • CEQA Plus Documentation

  • NEPA Compliance

    NEPA Compliance

    For federal NEPA compliance, we coordinate early with federal agencies to strategize the best way to achieve federal agency approval and expedite projects. Often times we prepare joint CEQA and NEPA documents that cover the requirements of both federal and state laws in one succinct document. We also prepare "CEQA Plus" documentation which evaluates the federal Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and the National Historic Preservation Act associated with NEPA compliance in the context of a CEQA document. Specific types of NEPA documents include:

    • Categorical Exclusion
    • Environmental Assessment (EA)
    • Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)
    • CEQA Plus Documentation

  • Air Quality / Climate Change

    Air Quality / Climate Change

    Our team includes air quality planners and engineers with extensive experience conducting air quality analyses for federal, state, and local air pollution regulations. Further, Harris staff have been involved in developing guidelines, including the California Air Pollution Control Officers Association (CAPCOA) Health Risk Assessment Guidelines for CEQA, and toxic emissions inventory and risk assessment software also known as the hotspots analysis and reporting program (HARP) used throughout California. Our services include:

    • Air Quality / Climate Change impact analyses
    • Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Reduction Plans
    • Health Risk Assessments
    • Stack and ambient air emissions testing for criteria and toxic substances
    • Toxic emissions inventories

  • Quality Assurance / Quality Control Review

    Quality Assurance / Quality Control Review

    Quality assurance and control (QA/QC) are essential to the preparation of professional, legally defensible environmental documents. Harris adheres to a stringent QA/QC process to confirm that all deliverables meet local, state, and federal regulations, including CEQA and NEPA; are well written and easily understood by the general public; and are consistent both internally and with other relevant documents. Specific services include:

    • CEQA and NEPA documents
    • Technical Reports

  • Technical Studies

    Technical Studies

    Our in-house technical experts are in the forefront and prepare technical studies for the following environmental topics to support CEQA/NEPA documents, as well as funding and permit application packages:

    • Air Quality
    • Biological Resources
    • Climate Change
    • Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions
    • Noise

  • Biological Resources

    Biological Resources

    Our team includes biologists with expertise in plants, wildlife, wetlands, restoration and mitigation planning, and Endangered Species Act compliance. We conduct analyses for stand-alone reports, CEQA/NEPA documents, and permit application packages. Our biological resources services include:

    • Habitat Assessments
    • Vegetation Mapping
    • General Wildlife Surveys
    • Bat Surveys
    • Nesting Bird Surveys
    • Threatened & Endangered Species Surveys
    • Protocol-level Sensitive Species Surveys
    • Botanical and Rare Plant Surveys
    • Wetland Delineations
    • Coordination with regulatory agencies
    • Habitat Conservation, Mitigation, and Restoration Plans
    • Pre-construction surveys
    • Biological Construction and Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting
    • Restoration Monitoring

  • Permitting + Regulatory Compliance

    Permitting + Regulatory Compliance

    Do you have all the necessary permits? Harris can help you determine permit requirements and navigate the regulatory compliance process. Our specialists delineate the limits of the sensitive resources; coordinate with regulatory agency staff; prepare the permit application package; develop the mitigation plan; and diligently track the process until the permit is in your hand. Harris specializes in permits for and compliance with:

    • Clean Water Act
      • Regional Water Quality Control Boards (RWQCB)
      • State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB)
      • United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)
    • National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System
      • RWQCB
      • SWRCB
    • Endangered Species Act
      • California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW)
      • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries)
      • United States Fish and Wildlife (USFWS)
    • California Coastal Act
      • California Coastal Commission
      • San Francisco Bay Conservation & Development Commission (BCDC)


  • Public Outreach

    Public Outreach

    One of the primary purposes of CEQA/NEPA is to inform the public; and for many projects, effective engagement is a critical part of the process and a successful project. Harris works with you to create a strategic plan for communicating project goals and engaging the public and stakeholders—local residents, businesses, property owners, and agencies—throughout the project's evolution. We encourage and incorporate feedback because it not only informs us of their concerns and issues, but keeps us accountable and in compliance with public involvement requirements. In addition to required notices and hearings, our outreach services include:

    • E-blasts
    • Social media alerts
    • Web pages
    • Information lines
    • Community meetings
    • Stakeholder presentations