John Robert Harper


Areas of Practice

  • Municipal Law
  • Government Finance


  • University of La Verne, School of Law
  • (J.D. 1978, Magna Cum Laude)
  • University of Redlands
  • (B.A. 1968)

Memberships / Admissions

  • State Bar of California
  • Assn. of California Water Agencies
  • League of California Cities
  • Orange County City Attorneys Assn.
  • Inland Empire City Attorneys Assn.
  • American Bar Association
  • Orange County Bar Association
  • California Trial Lawyers Association
  • Moody's Muni. Bond Lawyers of U.S .

Contact Details


In the course of his thirty-seven years of practice, Mr. Harper has represented exclusively public agencies in all areas of municipal law, as a city attorney, general counsel and special counsel in municipal finance and litigation, principally the areas of land use and planning, environmental law, risk management, real property and eminent domain.

Mr. Harper has been an arbitrator for the National Association of Securities Dealers and the Municipal Securities Rule making Board since 1980 and has taught mediation and arbitration techniques on behalf of the United States Department of Labor, Public Agency Division, throughout the United States. Mr. Harper has also been involved in innumerable mediation and arbitration sessions related to public employees and public labor relations, including successfully negotiating resolution to several public employee strikes.

Mr. Harper was the first Chairman of the Coto de Caza Specific Plan Board of Review, appointed by Supervisor Thomas Riley and Gaddi Vasquez. Mr. Harper is, and has been since 2010, Chairman of the Citizens Bond Oversight Commission for the City of San Juan Capistrano. He is also a member of the Board of Directors and Treasurer of the Friends of the Santa Ana Zoo.

Before receiving his law degree, Mr. Harper served as a personnel consultant to public agencies statewide, as Assistant Superintendent in the Corona-Norco Unified School District (1972-1978), and provided nationwide labor relations training through the U.S. Department of Labor.

From 1978 to the present, Mr. Harper has devoted his law practice to the representation of municipal clients, including cities, school districts, water districts, and other public agencies. Mr. Harper has been with the City of Norco since 1988, and was City Attorney and Redevelopment Counsel in Grand Terrace from 1979 to 2010 and in Murrieta from 1993 to 2007. Mr. Harper is General Counsel for the Rubidoux Community Services District, has served as General Counsel for the Lake Arrowhead Community Services District, the Big Bear Municipal Water District, the Indian Wells County Water District, and Trona Unified School District. He has served as City Attorney for the cities of Placentia (1978-1987) and Lake Elsinore (1984-1987), and was Deputy City Attorney for the City of Indian Wells and the City of Adelanto. In each of the cities referred to above, Mr. Harper also served as general counsel to the Redevelopment Agency.

In addition, Mr. Harper has provided special counsel services on behalf of the cities of Adelanto, Big Bear, Brea, Carlsbad, El Cajon, Fresno, Fullerton, Huntington Park, Indian Wells, Irwindale, Los Angeles, National City, Palm Desert, Pasadena, Pomona, San Clemente, San Diego, San Marcos, Santa Monica, Seal Beach, Simi Valley, Imperial, Winters, Dinuba.

Mr. Harper is rated “AV” by Martindale-Hubbell and is a nationally recognized municipal bond counsel.

  • Abated Riverside County marijuana dispensary
  • Drafted sober living home regulations and drug paraphernalia regulations adopted by Clients and other cities throughout Riverside and San Bernardino Counties
  • Assisted Riverside County JPA in drafting Riverside County multi-species habitat Regulations
  • Successfully litigated challenges to signage, billboard regulations in Norco, Murrieta, Lake Elsinore
  • Drafted numerous residential and commercial development agreements
  • Drafted numerous residential and commercial disposition and development agreements
  • Successfully litigated matters resulting in published appellate opinions: County of Riverside v. City of Murrieta (blight), Thompson v. City of Lake Elsinore (vested rights), Rafco Co. v. City of Murrieta (General Plan/approved tract map), Walt Rankin & Assoc., Inc. v. City of Murrieta (construction surety requirements), City of San Marcos v. Board of Supervisors (tax issue)
  • Successfully litigated closure of adult bookstores (Placentia, Lake Elsinore)
  • Successfully defended numerous CEQA challenges to land use approvals (Placentia, Norco, Murrieta, Grand Terrace)
  • Represented public agency management in labor negotiations and through strike
  • Conducted collective bargaining training through U.S. through Department of Labor