The Sohagi Law Group
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Professional Staff


Albert I. Herson                     
 
Professional Experience
 
2009-Present The Sohagi Law Group - Of Counsel
2004-2009 SWCA Environmental Consultants - Principal and Environmental Planning Practice Leader
2002-2004 SAIC - Vice President and Division Manager
1984-1985 Downy Brand - Associate Attorney
1979-1984, 1985-2002 Jones & Stokes - Officer and Legal Counsel
1976-1979 Southern California Association of Governments - Regional Planner

 
Education and Certifications
  • Bachelor of Arts, Psychology, University of Illinois, 1972
  • Masters of Arts, Urban Planning, University of California, Los Angeles, 1976
  • Juris Doctor, University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, 1984 (Class Valedictorian)
Professional Affiliations
  • California State Bar
  • American Institute of Certified Planners, Fellow
  • American Planning Association: President, California Chapter (1991-1993); National and California Chapter Amicus Committees (2014-present)
  • California Association of Environmental Professionals
  • California Environmental Law Report, Contributing Editor
  • California Planning Roundtable, President (2007-2008)
  • Capitol Public Radio Board of Directors (1995-1999)
  • California State Bar: Environmental Law Section, Executive Committee (1993-1995)
  • California Water Plan Update 2009 and 2013 Advisory Committee
  • National Association of Environmental Professionals, NEPA Working Group
Areas of Specialization
 
Mr. Herson is an environmental attorney and planner with over 30 years' experience. He is a recognized authority on the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and natural resources law. Mr. Herson serves as the firm's Sacramento presence, and advises public agencies on complex environmental and land use law matters, including CEQA, NEPA, SB 375 and climate change analysis, the Endangered Species Act, and wetlands permitting.
 
Mr. Herson has prepared and reviewed hundreds of CEQA and NEPA documents on land use, water resources, energy, infrastructure, and public lands projects. He serves as special CEQA Counsel for the Santa Clara Valley Water District, where has provided strategic CEQA advice and document review for many water supply, flood management, and wastewater projects. He also has provided strategic CEQA advice and document review for several General Plans, including Amador County and Monterey County.
 
Selected Professional Experience
 
California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)

Mr. Herson has participated in the preparation and quality assurance (QA) review of hundreds of local and state agency CEQA documents on land use, water resources, energy, transportation, and other projects. He has also written CEQA findings, CEQA guidelines, and CEQA compliance manuals for local governments.

He is co-author of two popular Solano Press desktop references: the CEQA Deskbook (2d edition), and California Environmental Law and Policy: A Practical Guide. He is also co-author of four CEQA chapters in the Matthew Bender treatise on California Environmental Law and Land Use Practice, and a contributing editor for the California Environmental Law Reporter. Mr. Herson has conducted open enrollment, client-specific, and University of California (UC) Extension CEQA courses, including courses on climate change analysis in CEQA documents, and regularly speaks on CEQA topics at professional conferences. Mr. Herson also serves as co-chair for CLE International's Annual CEQA Update conference, the state's leading CEQA legal conference currently in its eleventh year.

Mr. Herson has been advisor to the Office of Planning and Research and Natural Resources Agency on several rounds of CEQA Guideline amendments, as well as the OPR General Plan Guidelines Update. He has served on American Planning Association and Association of Environmental Professionals CEQA task forces to develop recommendations for CEQA reform.

Representative CEQA compliance legal or QA reviews include:

Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments. EIR for Monterey Bay 2035: Moving Forward (2014 RTP/SCS).

County of Alpine. Bear Valley Village Master Plan EIR (ski resort master plan).
 
County of Amador. Buena Vista Biomass Power Project EIR.
 
County of Amador. 2011 General Plan Update EIR.
 
City of Concord. Concord Reuse Plan EIR.
 
California Department of General Services. Truckee Communication Facilities Replacement Project EIR.
 
California Department of Toxic Substances Control. Unexploded Ordinance Remediation Project EIR.
 
California Public Utilities Commission. Numerous projects under on-call CEQA contract (Jones & Stokes).
 
California State Lands Commission. Shellmounds Disposition EIR/EA.
 
California State Water Resources Control Board. Numerous projects under on-call CEQA contract (Jones & Stokes).
 
City of Placerville. Lumsden Ranch EIR (300-unit subdivision).
 
County of Colusa. Colusa Industrial Properties EIR (commercial-industrial project).
 
County of Inyo. General Plan EIR.
 
County of Kern. Blackhawk II EIR.
 
County of Monterey. 2010 General Plan Update EIR.
 
County of Sacramento. The Easton Project EIR (1200-acre mixed use community).
 

County of San Joaquin. 2014 General Plan Update EIR.

County of Yolo. Revisions to Agricultural Mitigation Ordinance.

County of Yuba. Feather Creek Specific Plan EIR.
 
Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts. Clearwater Program Master Facilities Plan EIR/EIS.
 
Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts. Joint Outfall System Year 2010 Master Plan EIR.
 
Los Angeles World Airports. Specific Plan Amendment Study EIR.

Metropolitan Water District. Numerous projects under on-call CEQA contract.

Port of Los Angeles. Southern California International Gateway EIR.

San Bernardino Valley MWD. Santa Ana River Appropriative Water Rights Project EIR.

San Diego Association of Governments. EIRs for 2050 Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy (2011 RTP/SCS) and San Diego Forward (2015 RTP/SCS).

San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board. EIR for Napa/Sonoma Creeks Vineyards Waste Discharge Requirements General Permit.

Santa Clara Valley Water District. Numerous Negative Declarations and EIRs for water supply, wastewater, and flood control projects, while serving as on-call CEQA Special Counsel. Major document reviews have included EIRs for the Permanente Creek Flood Management Project, Upper Berryessa Creek Flood Management Project, San Luis Reservoir Low Point Project, South County Recycled Water Master Plan, and Stream Maintenance Program.

Tulare County Association of Governments. 2014 RTP/SCS EIR.

Tejon Ranch Company. Agricultural Water Management Plan EIR.

Representative clients for whom CEQA Guidelines/manuals were prepared include:

  • County of Inyo
  • County of Los Angeles
  • County of Placer
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

Mr. Herson also specializes in NEPA compliance. Mr. Herson has participated in the preparation and quality assurance review of many NEPA documents for public lands, water resources, energy, transportation, and other projects. Federal clients have included BLM, National Park Service, USFWS, EPA, the US Bureau of Reclamation, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and the Federal Highway Administration. Projects have been located throughout the western US. Mr. Herson was lead course developer for BLM's Successful Land Use Planning course, and the International Right of Way Association's Environmental Compliance courses; both include a major NEPA component. He is co-author of The NEPA Book, a popular desktop reference. He has conducted open enrollment, client-specific, and UC Extension courses on NEPA, including courses on climate change analysis in NEPA documents. He is a member of the National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP) NEPA Working Group, and regularly speaks on NEPA legal topics at NAEP conferences.

Representative NEPA compliance legal or QA reviews include:

Invenergy. NEPA and permitting services for Horse Lake Wind Energy Project (Lassen County).

Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts. Calabasas Landfill National Park Service Permit EA.

Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts. Joint Outfall System Year 2010 Master Plan EIS.

US Bureau of Land Management. Jonah Natural Gas Field Infill EIS (Wyoming).

US Bureau of Land Management. Las Vegas Wash Conservation Transfer Area EIS.

US Bureau of Reclamation. American River Long-term Contracts EIS.

US Bureau of Reclamation. Kesterson Reservoir Cleanup Plan EIS.

US Fish and Wildlife Service. Desert National Wildlife Refuge Conservation Plan EIS.

US Fish and Wildlife Service. Lower Colorado River Multiple Species HCP EIS.

Washington DOT. I-90 Snoqualmie Pass Project EIS.

Yosemite Fund. Tenaya Lake Area Plan Environmental Assessment.

Yosemite Institute. Environmental Education Campus EIS.

Yosemite National Park. Communications Data Network EA. County of Alpine.

Bear Valley Village Master Plan EIR (ski resort master plan).

SB 375 and Climate Change

Mr. Herson has focused experience in SB 375 and climate change analyses in CEQA and NEPA documents, as well as integrating these considerations into the general planning process. He has prepared or provided quality assurance reviews of climate change sections in many EIRs and EISs. He participated on American Planning Association California Chapter (APACA) task forces on SB 375, the AB 32 Scoping Plan, and proposed SB 97 and SB 226 CEQA Guidelines amendments. He has conducted training courses and made conference presentations on CEQA/ NEPA climate change analysis, and authored numerous legal and policy articles on the subject.

Mr. Herson played a major role in the legal review and defense of the SANDAG 2050 RTP/SCS and EIR, the first to be prepared under SB 375, and well as its successor RTP/SCS, San Diego Forward. For both Plans and EIRs, he provided SANDAG staff and the EIR consultant team with strategic CEQA advice, reviewed Draft and Final RTP and EIR sections, drafted Final EIR master responses, and reviewed CEQA findings. He also has provided CEQA advice and review for RTPs/SCS EIRs prepared for the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments and the Tulare County Association of Governments. His past experience as a regional planner with the Southern California Association of Governments gives him unique insights into working effectively with regional planning agency staff and boards.

Representative CEQA or NEPA climate change analyses Mr. Herson has prepared or QA-reviewed include:

Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments. EIR for Monterey Bay 2035: Moving Forward (2014 RTP/SCS).

County of Alpine. Bear Valley Village Master Plan EIR (ski resort master plan).

County of Amador. Buena Vista Biomass Power Project EIR.

County of Amador. 2011 General Plan Update EIR.

City of Placerville. Lumsden Ranch EIR (300-unit subdivision).

County of Colusa. Colusa Industrial Properties EIR (commercial-industrial project).

County of Monterey. 2010 General Plan Update.

County of Sacramento. The Easton Project EIR (1200-acre mixed use community).

County of Yuba. Feather Creek Specific Plan EIR.

San Diego Association of Governments. EIRs for 2050 Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy (2011 RTP/SCS) and San Diego Forward (2015 RTP/SCS).

Santa Clara Valley Water District. Numerous Negative Declarations and EIRs for water supply, wastewater, and flood control projects, while serving as on-call CEQA Special Counsel.

US Fish and Wildlife Service. Desert National Wildlife Refuge Conservation Plan EIS.

Yosemite Institute. Environmental Education Campus EIS.

Selected Publications

A. Herson and G. Lucks. California Environmental Law and Policy: A Practical Guide. Solano Press, 2008.

R. Bass, A. Herson, and K. Bogdan. The NEPA Book. Solano Press, 2001.

R. Bass, A. Herson, and K. Bogdan. CEQA Deskbook (2d Ed.). Solano Press, 2001.

R. Bass and A. Herson. CEQA Chapters in Environmental Law and Land Use Practice Treatise. Matthew-Bender, updated annually.

K. Bogdan and A. Herson. Wetlands Regulation Chapter in Environmental Law and Land Use Practice Treatise. Matthew-Bender, updated annually.

Mr. Herson is Contributing Editor for the California Environmental Law Reporter, where he writes monthly commentaries on CEQA cases, as well as lead articles.
 
Recent California Environmental Law Reporter lead articles include:

  • A. Herson. SB 226 CEQA Guidelines: New Tools for Infill Project CEQA Streamlining. February 2013.
  • A. Herson. Tomlinson v. County of Alameda: Another CEQA Procedural Victory for Lead Agencies. September 2012.
  • A. Herson. CEQA Case Law on Greenhouse Gas Analysis: What Have We Learned? May 2012.
  • N. Gordon and A. Herson. Demystifying CEQA's Cumulative Impact Analysis Requirements. September 2011.
  • A. Herson. CEQA Agricultural Land Mitigation: Is Offsite Preservation a Feasible Mitigation Measure? April 2011.
  • A. Herson. Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Analysis in CEQA Documents: The Next Frontier. September 2009.
  • A. Herson. SB 375: Will it Work? January 2009.
Selected Courses

FHWA Central Federal Lands Highway Division. CEQA/NEPA Integration Course. 2004.

International Right of Way Association. Environmental Compliance Course, U.S. and Canadian versions. 2009.

SWCA Environmental Consultants

  • Comprehensive NEPA Open Enrollment Course: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008.
  • NEPA and Climate Change Webinar: 2007, 2008.

UC Davis

  • Environmental Impact Assessment Undergraduate Course (ESP 179). 2011 (quarter-long course).

UC Davis Extension

  • Environmental Compliance for California Water Projects/Urban Water Supplies. 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011.
  • Numerous CEQA and NEPA courses.
  • Planning and Environmental Law. 2011, 2012, 2013 (quarter-long course).

UCLA Extension

  • Environmental Compliance for California Water Projects/Urban Water Supplies. 2007, 2009, 2010.
  • Environmental Laws and Institutions: State, National International. 2010, 2011(quarter-long course).
  • Numerous CEQA and NEPA courses.
Selected Presentations

American Planning Association California Chapter Conferences

  • The General Plan and General Plan EIR, Friends or Foes: 2012 (panel moderator).
  • CEQA Legal Update: 2011.
  • NEPA Legal Update: 2010 (panel moderator).
  • California Water Plan Update 2009 (panel moderator): 2009 and 2010.
  • California Flood Legislation Implementation (panel moderator): 2008.
  • New California Flood Legislation (panel moderator): 2007.

Association of Environmental Professionals

  • Advanced CEQA Workshops: 2009-2013.
  • NEPA Climate Change Analysis: 2009 Annual Conference.
  • California Flood Legislation Implementation (panel moderator): 2008 Annual Conference.

CLE International Conferences

  • Annual CEQA Conference (conference co-chair): 2004-2014.
  • NEPA Conference, NEPA and climate change presentations: 2007, 2008. National Association of Environmental Professionals Annual Conferences

UCLA Annual Land Use Law and Policy Conferences

  • Contrasting Legal and Planner Codes of Ethics: 2009.
  • Community Planning Strategies for Climate Change: 2008.
Awards
  • Distinguished Leadership Award, American Planning Association California Chapter
  • Best Practices Award, American Planning Association Sacramento Section (California Environmental Law and Policy: A Practical Guide)
  • Outstanding Public Education Award, Association of Environmental Professionals (CEQA Deskbook)
  • Outstanding Instructor Award, UCLA Extension
  • Outstanding Instructor Award, UC Davis Extension
  • Order of the Coif and Traynor Society, McGeorge School of Law
  • Phi Beta Kappa
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