For more than 25 years, Jeff Harlan has dedicated a career to working with and within government to improve communities through smart planning, design, and public policy.
An attorney and urban planner by trade, Jeff knows what it takes to make cities and neighborhoods thrive. He brings a unique perspective to planning and governing communities, shaped by his experiences as a deputy to an elected official, planning director for a state land conservancy, and land use and environmental consultant. Jeff has been a leader locally, serving on the Costa Mesa Planning Commission for the past four years, the last two as Vice Chair, and as a Board member of the Costa Mesa Community Foundation for eight years.
Living on the Eastside for the past 15 years, Jeff has keenly observed how the community has changed and prospered. There’s plenty to love about Eastside Costa Mesa—from its proximity to nearby attractions (the beauty and trails of the Back Bay, quick access to the 55 freeway and the beach) to shopping on 17th Street and Newport Boulevard to the great schools parents desire. It’s a full-service district with distinct neighborhoods, all of which contribute to the area’s cherished community character. On the Eastside, residents are truly content to spend a lifetime here.
This election is the first opportunity for District 6 residents to elect a representative and have a direct voice on the City Council. We need a Councilmember with the experience, expertise, and community roots to be a strong advocate for our neighborhoods. Jeff’s work in the community and inside City Hall makes him ready on Day One to be our voice for the Eastside during a time of unprecedented challenges for Costa Mesa.
In the coming years, it will be critical for the City to have a sound economic development strategy. We have primarily relied on retail sales tax to fund City services for decades, and the pandemic has only highlighted the fact that this strategy jeopardizes our fiscal health. Our City government needs to be enterprising and nimble to develop a more diverse and stable economy with new revenue streams. Building off of his expertise in planning and development, Jeff will explore ways to keep our existing businesses growing, and to recruit new ventures that will provide jobs, additional revenue for the City, and spur investment in our neighborhoods.
In order to sustain the Eastside’s desirability, we need to ensure that our community character is preserved and thoughtfully improved. Although we are a mostly built-out district with a balanced mix of residential, commercial and public land uses, there is constant pressure to develop the Eastside haphazardly and without regard to the charm and scale of our neighborhoods. As a Planning Commissioner and attorney specializing in environmental and land use issues, Jeff knows firsthand how to address these challenges with solutions that benefit all our residents and businesses.
Keeping residents and businesses safe is a primary function of local government. During Jeff’s tenure on the Costa Mesa Planning Commission, he has grappled with the Eastside’s most pressing public safety issues, including voting to deny dozens of applications for sober living homes that did not comply with City regulations. Although our ordinance has been challenged several times in court, judges have consistently upheld our laws to prevent an overconcentration of these facilities in our residential neighborhoods. Jeff will continue to make sure our laws are faithfully enforced to protect residents, patients, and providers, in addition to advocating for additional support at the state and federal level.
Improving street safety and increasing pedestrian mobility options are priorities that Jeff shares with many Eastside residents. This includes reducing speeding from through-traffic in residential neighborhoods, improving pedestrian street crossings, and creating safe routes to our schools and businesses. Our neighbors will feel safer walking and biking if we embrace these as core planning principles to reduce traffic overall and invest in infrastructure improvements to local streets and alleys.
Like other California cities, Costa Mesa must address the growing demand for housing. As new homes are in short supply and shelter is becoming increasingly unaffordable, the State of California is requiring cities to plan for and create more housing. Costa Mesa is fortunate to be jobs-rich, a place where employers locate due to our large customer base, available skilled labor, and locations that are safe, attractive, and accessible. But we must be smart about new investment citywide by locating housing near existing jobs, expanding transportation options, and reducing impacts to the environment. Jeff recognizes that when the City as a whole prospers, so does the Eastside.
*Map source: Travel Costa Mesa
Engaging public space is essential for a lively community, and Jeff knows there are always opportunities to design, operate, and manage our city’s public spaces to deliver quality social, economic, and environmental benefits. As an urban planner, Jeff understands how to create value by enhancing our parks, streetscapes, and roadways, and will support future projects that promote sustainable design, bikeability/walkability, and neighborhood vitality.
Jeff will work collaboratively with local, state, and federal officials to continue fighting the adverse noise and pollution impacts from John Wayne Airport that Eastside residents deal with on a daily basis. Airport expansion is a complex issue that has material impacts on our community, and, as your City Councilmember, Jeff will engage fellow local leaders and our community to find appropriate solutions.
Jeff Harlan has been actively involved in our Eastside community for nearly 15 years with his wife Melinda and two daughters, Sophie and Evie.
Chip in a donation to support Jeff's grassroots campaign for Costa Mesa City Council District 6.
Help spread the word as we connect with Costa Mesa neighbors and voters on the campaign trail.