Housing Specialists

We are here to serve as a bridge between concept and design, allowing local jurisdictions to define the parameters of their housing development and pursue housing which fits the needs, character, and context of their communities. By taking control of the design process, jurisdictions can develop the community vision into project documents ready for competitive bid, resulting in a larger pool of contractors. This approach to housing development will lead to more economical projects which reflect our communities. Get to know our team and please give us a call to discuss your project concepts. Together, we can advance the quality of life for generations to come.

The statewide housing shortage in California has led to unprecedented efforts by State and local government to spur housing production. This push for housing development has resulted in significant changes in approach to housing production, with the State now enforcing housing element compliance much more strictly and issuing new requirements for streamlining housing approval. However, in many instances, jurisdictions lack the necessary staffing and in-house expertise to initiate and conceptualize housing developments that their communities need. This puts jurisdictions in challenging positions as they seek to encourage housing development in their communities but remain at the whim of housing developers to accomplish large-scale activities. This can result in projects which start with one vision and shift to another as the design progresses and developers prioritize changes to the project which ensure the developers’ bottom line but don’t always meet community goals. Or worse, RFPs for housing projects go unanswered.

After seeing this process play out consistently in the communities we serve, LACO is keenly aware of the challenges local jurisdictions face. We set out to find a solution that gives cities and counties the ability to take a leading role in housing development in their communities. We recognize that local jurisdictions do not typically develop housing, but we can help you develop and design housing projects that turn your community’s vision into reality. LACO’s team offers one of a kind service, doing it the way you want, and can partner with agency staff to help support projects wherever capacity or expertise are lacking internally, resulting in projects the Community and City or County leaders can be proud of.

  • Property Inventorying
  • Conceptual Design
  • CEQA Analysis and Compliance
  • Pro Forma and Market Analysis
  • Project Financing
    • Funding applications (grants & loans) – local, state, federal agencies & private foundations
    • Financial Proforma Analysis
    • NEPA Environmental Clearance – Federal Funding Requirement
  • Design Development
  • Cost Estimating
  • Construction Plans and Bid Documents
  • Bid Support

“LACO’s true professionalism and client relationship “shined bright” through the process… PEP Housing appreciates the relationship that was created with LACO and we look forward to continuing it in the future.”

Jim Wallen, Director of Development, PEP Housing

Meet Our Team

Mike Nelson, AICP

President, CEO & Planning Director
Mr. Nelson has extensive experience in project management, financial pro forma statements, entitlement, environmental compliance, sustainable design, design, construction, and operation of hospitality projects, commercial facilities, residential developments, subdivisions, and municipal planning projects. Mr. Nelson is LACO’s expert on the planning and entitlement process. Mr. Nelson has managed projects from due diligence phases through commissioning and Certificate of Occupancy phases in Northern California, the Central Valley of California, Hawaii, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Bermuda for many complex entitlement, development, and construction projects, as both an owner’s representative and private consultant.

Bruce Shimizu

Housing Specialist

He is an experienced land planner, site designer, project manager, and housing developer. Mr. Shimizu has overseen all aspects of residential housing development from site feasibility analysis, land purchase negotiations, acquisition financing, preliminary design & engineering plans, entitlement processing, architectural & engineering construction documents, budgeting & value engineering, permit processing, construction financing, general contractor selection, bidding, construction administration, project closeout (sales or property management), take-out (permanent) financing, and post-occupancy evaluation. He has worked with local, State, and Federal funding sources to fund the development of affordable for-sale homes (SFD & Townhomes), and rental housing communities (SRO, senior, and family). His housing experience includes work with local & regional nonprofit agencies, local governments, and tribal communities. In addition to “conventional” housing, he’s worked on communities using different models including housing land trust, co-housing, modular housing, mobilehome park, and mutual self-help “sweat equity.”

Beth Burks, AICP

Principal Planner

She also serves as a Project Manager for municipal, non-profit, and private sector projects from entitlement through construction. She currently manages several municipal on-call contracts. Prior to joining LACO she was a Senior Planner with the County of Humboldt where she worked for 8 years. Her project experience includes infrastructure improvements (water, sewer, power, airports and roads.), affordable housing, government facilities, commercial proposals, coastal development, residential subdivisions, and development affecting sensitive species and habitats. She routinely prepares and presents written reports and oral testimony to decision makers such as Planning Commissions and Board of Supervisors. She has established positive and productive working relationships with project proponents, state agencies, local governments, service districts, and tribal governments. Ms. Burks’ also has expertise in the Brown Act and Public Records Act.

Ms. Burks is an affordable housing advocate having served as Board Member and Board President of Housing Humboldt, a non-profit affordable housing provider, from 2005-2017. During her tenure Housing Humboldt build Humboldt County’s first housing complex for individuals with mental illness that were also chronically homeless, in addition to completing home ownership opportunities through a housing land trust and rehabilitation of older housing complexes.

Kevin Doble

Business Development & Government Relations

Additionally, he is a Senior Project Manager, Government Relations, and Storm Water Specialist. Mr. Doble joined our team in 2018 with LACO’s acquisition of DobleThomas and Associates and provides a broad range of experience from both the public and private sectors, offering high level project management for key projects and clients. Mr. Doble’s integrated approach to communities is supported by special knowledge of jurisdictional ordinances, the Land Development and the ability to navigate and solve complex projects, while maintaining key relationships with public agencies. Mr. Doble’s time in the public sector includes working for the Sonoma County Permit and Resource Management Department (PRMD). While at PRMD, he was the Lead in developing the standards for the County Grading and Drainage Ordinance as well as one of the original technical team members for developing the City of Santa Rosa Low Impact Development Requirements. Additionally, Mr. Doble participates in many civic activities in the Ukiah area and throughout the North Bay region.

He is formerly the Mayor for the City of Ukiah, a Board Member on the Russian River Watershed Association, a Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) Commissioner, Board Member for the Mendocino Economic Development Corporation, Commissioner for the Mendocino Inland Water and Power Commission, and Ex-officio Member of the Greater Ukiah Chamber of Commerce.

Portrait of Christine Manhart

Christine Manhart, PG, CHG

Principal Geologist

As LACO’s Certified Hydrogeologist, Ms. Manhart oversees the planning and implantation of projects related to groundwater availability, aquifer characterization, water well siting, and the preparation of Groundwater Management Plans. She spent much of her career focusing on investigation, monitoring, and remediating impacted properties with a variety of constituents of concern. Property types included underground storage tank sites primarily impacted with petroleum hydrocarbons and municipal landfills with a wide range of COCs including petroleum hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and heavy metals.


She is also the Water Pollution Control Manager for both construction and industrial projects in the Eureka office. She is charged with providing oversight and final approval for all Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans prepared by our stormwater team.


Ms. Manhart’s extensive experience preparing Phase I/Phase II Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) and Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPPs) has positioned her as a leading authority for large industrial/manufacturing facilities application. She has directed assessments in a variety of industries, including large-scale textile milling, furniture manufacturing, chemical processing, and tire remanufacturing, and for small commercial properties such as gas stations, print shops, and lumber facilities.

Portrait of Byron Turner

Byron Turner

Senior Planner

Mr. Turner most recently served as the Principal Planner for the Lake County Community Development Department and was previously the Assistant Director of the San Benito County Resource Management Agency, where he spent over two years as the Interim Planning Director while the County restructured in uncertain economic times. As an experienced CEQA practitioner, Byron is familiar with all levels of CEQA analysis, managing EIRs for large projects, writing and reviewing Initial Studies for Mitigated and Negative Declarations, and utilizing all types of exemptions, including Section 15183 exceptions. In addition to filling the roles of Associate and Principal Planner in San Benito County, Byron also served as a Planner and Code Enforcement Officer in the County of Imperial. His history in the Public Sector working for these Counties provide the unique perspective of seeing projects “from the other side of the counter”. Working for primarily small, rural counties has also allowed Byron to have experience in a wide range of project types requiring CEQA analysis, from industrial scale energy projects and Planned Developments, natural resource extraction and SMARA compliance, and cannabis development and permitting, to minor subdivisions and use permits, ordinance development, and General Plan and Housing Element updates.

Portrait of Bradley Thomas

Brad Thomas, PLS

Vice President of Land Surveying

Brad began his career as a land surveying apprentice in 1975 and began self-employment as a Land Surveyor in 1989. His original business began in Sebastopol and relocated to Windsor in 1995. Brad purchased the Cloverdale land surveying firm of John H. Doble and Associates in 2000 and incorporated the firm as Doble Thomas & Associates. LACO Associates purchased Doble Thomas & Associates in July of 2018. The acquisition was the joining two extraordinary firms very similar in culture, with practice strengths that are highly complementary. Brad has participated in the surveying and development of public parks including the popular Windsor Town Green and Hiram Lewis Park in Windsor. He has also participated in many environmental restoration projects for public benefit including the Napa River Watershed Flood Protection & Habitat Enhancement and Dry Creek Habitat Restoration in Healdsburg. Brad is currently supervising the survey and Right of Way acquisition for the Hartley Street Pedestrian Improvements, a Safe Routes to School Project in Lakeport.

Portrait of Rod Wilburn

Rod Wilburn, PE, JD

Vice President of Engineering

He has a proven ability to plan, manage, and oversee activities and operations of design and engineering projects. Mr. Wilburn has a deep understanding of individual roles on a civil engineering design team through advancement from a planner, developer, assistant engineer, registered civil engineer, project manager, to a Public Works Director. His achievements include planning, preliminary design, development of bid documents, and construction management for water, wastewater, water resources, and related infrastructure projects. He has managed multiple large land development projects in the Central Valley that included drainage studies, sewer studies, improvement plans, and quantity/cost estimates. In addition, Mr. Wilburn has also performed grading drainage and sewer and other design functions for commercial projects in Reno, Carson City, and Minden, Nevada.

Portrait of Jordan Blough

Jordan Blough

Economic Development Specialist

Mr. Blough’s role focuses on connecting LACO’s clients with relevant and accessible funding opportunities to help bring their projects from concept to reality. This includes assessing funding opportunities for fit and likelihood of success, supporting clients as they scope out projects which meet the community’s needs and are compliant with funding source requirements, and developing comprehensive and compelling funding applications. Mr. Blough joined LACO in 2014 with Bachelor’s Degrees in both English and Sociology from the University of California, Davis, and previously worked at a specialty grant writing firm in Paradise, California, which focused primarily on securing federal and private foundation funding for nonprofits and community health centers. Mr. Blough has led or supported successful grant applications funded through agencies such as the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the California State Water Resources Control Board, California Department of Water Resources, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, amongst others. Mr. Blough’s social science background, along with his communication skills and experience as a professional consultant, allow him to help clients assess their community to identify projects which meet the area’s unique needs, are feasible to develop and implement, and justified with clear and compelling narratives and supporting materials. Mr. Blough was born and raised in Willits, California, and takes immense pride in supporting local communities throughout the North Coast.

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