John Withers


“John has always brought an invaluable understanding of land and water use and how to navigate the intricacies of local government and the entitlement process. Coupled with his enthusiasm, you just won't find a better candidate for win-win outcomes.” - Frank Suryan CEO of Lyon Capital Ventures

John Withers applies his extensive background in project management, land development, real estate asset enhancement, water resource management, and local government to find solutions to challenging regulatory, resource and development issues.

John Withers brings to California Strategies more than 28 years of results-oriented experience in water resources and regulation; real estate development, entitlement, and asset protection, and government relations. He is able to find pathways to solutions that others miss because he has worked on all sides of the issues, attacking problems as an applicant, an elected official, a regulator, and a consultant.

Since joining California Strategies, Withers has:


  • Worked with developers of large master-planned communities, including Lennar, Lewis Operating Corp, DMB and Suncal, to solve complex issues
  • Helped leading merchant builders and REITS, including William Lyon Homes, Centex, Shea, Sares Regis, and Western National Properties, strategically reposition assets in a challenging marketplace
  • Assisted public agencies such as the San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District, Inland Empire Utility Agency, Palmdale Water District, the City of Chino, the City of Desert Hot Springs and others accomplish key goals
  • Guided companies such as Fluor, RBF, HDR, Turner Construction and others wishing to do business with the government understand the context and intricacies of that process.


Withers spent more than 10 years as a director for Psomas and Associates, a leading civil engineering firm, where he helped establish a successful water resources practice that grew to 22 employees, generating an annual revenue of $2.4 million. Withers also has served in a variety of development and policy assignments including Director of Governmental Affairs for the Orange County chapter of the California Building Industry Association and as a Legislative Advocate in Sacramento for the statewide chapter.

Recognizing his management and regulatory expertise, Lewis Operating Corporation, one of the nation’s premier land development and real estate investment firms, hired him as Vice President, responsible for the entitlement and development of a 9,000-unit master-planned community in the Chino agriculture preserve.

California Strategies clients also benefit from the government relations insights Withers has gained from his numerous elected and appointed government positions. He has served for over 20 years as an elected director (and former Board President) of the Irvine Ranch Water District, for 17 years as a commissioner (and former Chairman) of the Orange County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), and as a governor’s appointed board member (and former Chairman) of the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board. He is especially proud to have been appointed to the Water Quality Control Board by both Republican Governors Pete Wilson and Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democratic Governor Gray Davis.

His expertise in water issues has been recognized by the National Water Research Institute, and the Urban Water Institute, which have invited him to serve on their Boards of Directors. He also serves on the statewide AB331 Blue Ribbon Committee that is working to remove obstacles to expand the use of recycled water.

A native Southern Californian, Withers attended Los Angeles city schools and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and urban studies from UCLA. He was one of the few selected to be a Coro Foundation fellow and earned a Master of Arts degree in urban studies from Occidental College.

Water Resource Management
Strategic Regulatory Consulting
Land Use Entitlement and Development Strategies
Business and Government Issues Management


Federal State & Local Government
Public Private Partnerships
Real Estate & Land Use
Strategic Communications
Transportation & Infrastructure
Career Highlights
Vice President for master planned community development at Lewis Operating Corporation
Director for leading civil engineering firm, Psomas and Associates
Director of Governmental Affairs for the Orange County region of the Building Industry Association

Contact John Withers

John Withers Leads Orange County’s Water Future
Our Partner, John Withers, who serves as Board Chairman of The Orange County Sanitation District, works to invest resources that will enhance and protect a large portion Orange County's water supply.
John Withers Of Irvine To Serve As Board Chairman For The Orange County Sanitation District
Fountain Valley, California – The Orange County Sanitation District (OC San) announces John Withers, of the Irvine Ranch Water District Board of Directors, as Chairman of the OC San Board,...