Richard Harris is a Senior Policy Advisor with a practice of representation shaped by his prior career in public service.  He has advised municipalities and public-sector clients in the areas of water, transportation, natural resources, operations and finance over the last 23 years at Nossaman.  Richard has built a reputation of credibility and success in achieving results for local public agencies and others. 

Richard spent over 15 years in public service prior to joining Nossaman and served as a locally elected school board member.  Early in his career, he was a senior consultant to the Assembly Economic Development and New Technologies Committee under Chairman Sam Farr, worked for two former Majority Leaders of the State Assembly, and was the long-time District Director for former Congressman Vic Fazio, the third ranking Member of the House of Representatives.  He was Fazio's chief policy and political liaison to all local government agencies in seven Sacramento valley counties.   

As a school board member he was credited by the Editorial Board of the Sacramento Bee for proposing a truly smart idea on school funding in 2012 that in the Bee’s view, If other officials thought in similar terms, schools would be in far better shape.

Richard has successfully managed candidate and issue political campaigns including Fazio’s 1992 and 1994 campaigns and several school funding initiatives.  He is experienced in all aspects of campaigning from messaging, polling, direct mail, volunteer organizing, and television and social media advertising.



San Diego Regional Airport Authority. Nossaman has represented the authority since December 2015. The San Diego Airport is the third largest in the state and one of a few airports managed by an appointed board established with statutory authority separate from municipal oversight.  Richard led the advocacy coalition in 2018 to protect the Authority’s governance autonomy and has successfully lobbied operational issues such as rental car financing and taxi cab regulation, as well as direct advocacy for funding through state agencies including the California Air Resources Board.

Transportation Corridor Agencies of Orange County.  Nossaman successfully lobbied for passage of a series of bills to authorize the construction of the first privately-financed and publicly-owned toll roads in California.  As a result of this legislation, three toll roads in Orange County – currently 51 miles complete – were built at a cost of more than $3 billion.  Richard has led every successful fight of legislative attempts to stop the completion of the Foothill-South portion of the SR 241, the final leg of the toll roads connecting Orange and San Diego counties.  Recent legislative issues included restrictions on planning and finance authority, habitat management planning, toll user personal information privacy, tolling inter-operability, toll collection, state historical designations, agreements and financial audits.

California Artisanal Distillers Guild.  Nossaman led a coalition that negotiated the most significant change to the state’s tied house alcohol laws since prohibition.  Representing the state’s small craft distillers, Richard drafted changes to law allowing distillers to sell small quantities of their products on the distillery premises.  This accommodation of retail sales circumvents the three-tiered system of alcohol distribution and is leading to development of rural and urban distilleries and expanded tourism.

WateReuse Association.  Richard had a direct role in every piece of legislation and strategic decision affecting the association for two decades, including conceiving or drafting every bill, lobbying for their success and coordinating water industry support of the association’s efforts.  He successfully led the coalition supporting $725 million for water recycling in Proposition 1 of 2014.  He also wrote funding and language for Proposition 13 of 2000, providing more than $100 million in loans and grants to fund water recycling projects.    

Natural Resources Banking Coalition.  Nossaman established this coalition in 2012 to successfully lobby for the reinstatement of the mitigation and conservation banking program at the state Department of Fish and Game.  Richard served as the spokesperson for the group and negotiated program funding and implementation language to benefit private and public banks.

Olivenhain Municipal Water District.  Nossaman serves as General Counsel for the district and Richard successfully lobbied to set aside of funds for water districts in the parks/water bond (SB 5) of 2017 as well as spearheading efforts to exempt recycled water investments from long-term conservation regulations and drought-response actions.

Padre Dam Municipal Water District.  Richard represented the district in fighting for funding in several water bonds and pushed protections of potable reuse recycled water investments through negotiations over long-term conservation regulations and drought-response actions.

Fallen Leaf Lake Community Services District.  Richard took over representation of the district in 2018 and drafted legislation changing their governance and voting structure to create a hybrid landowner/resident district.  

Ontario-Montclair School District.  Richard serves as the State advocate for the District on administrative and legislative initiatives to access funding for programs such as the Promise Scholars and he was instrumental in garnering state support for the creation of an OMSD single district SELPA.

Lake Elsinore.  Richard was directly responsible for the inclusion of $15 million in Proposition 13 of 2000 for water quality and watershed improvements at Lake Elsinore.

Port of Oakland.  While the chief lobbyist for this agency that owns and operates the Oakland International Airport, Jack London Square and the third largest seaport in the state, Richard was their chief advocate on transportation, job creation, air quality and other issues.  He wrote legislation to put a Bond before the voters to finance infrastructure and security measures in the state.

Sacramento Area Council of Governments.  Richard drafted legislation to secure $50 million in state funding for the Sacramento Emergency Clean Air Transportation Plan.  This innovative program allowed state, federal, and local funding to be used to substantially reduce NOx emissions by retrofitting heavy-duty diesel truck fleets in the Sacramento area

City of Irvine.  Richard represented the City on issues related to the El Toro Marine Corps Air Base reuse and the development of the Orange County Great Park.

Water Districts.  Richard represented municipal water districts on matters related to hydroelectric power generation, funding of recycling and water projects and governance.



Community & Professional

Davis Joint Unified School District Board of Education, 2007 - 2012, President 2010 - 2011

Appointed by the Yolo County Board of Supervisors as one of five members of the Yolo County Redistricting Advisory Committee (RAC) in 2001 and again in 2011


Honors & Recognitions

Received the "President's Award" from WateReuse California in 2011 for his lifetime achievements in advancing water recycling



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