History

1961
Save the Bay founded by environmental pioneers, Catherine Kerr, Sylvia McLaughlin and Ester Gulick. In 2009, as part of its 40th anniversary, ESA underwrites Saving the Bay, Ron Blatman’s documentary on how these pioneers inspired orderly shoreline development and preservation.
1962
Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring published.
July 3, 1969
ESA founded by three scientists, Paul Zigman, Richard Cole, and Keith Kaulum, in Foster City, California. Pioneered the use of science-based analyses to inform community planning and decision making.
Sep 1, 1969
ESA hires employee #1, Charles (Chuck) Bennett. Chuck, known for his innovative wind and shadow studies that influenced the city of San Francisco’s development, still works at ESA.
1969
Santa Barbara oil spill—a flashpoint for modern environmental regulation.
1969
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) passed by Congress. First federal environmental protection statute.
1970
First Earth Day. Led to the creation of US Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.
1970
Governor Ronald Reagan signs the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) into law. Enacted to supplement NEPA through state law.
1970
Clean Air Act enacted to limit emissions related to air pollution.
1971
State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) passed by Washington state’s House of Representatives
1972
Clean Water Act enacted to restore and maintain clean and healthy waters.
1972
ESA begins work with long-standing client, East Bay Municipal Utility District, EBMUD, on the environmental impacts of San Pablo Dam seismic safety alternatives, one of many completed over the last 47 years.
1974
PCR, a premier environmental consulting firm focusing on CEQA and NEPA, opens in Santa Monica.
1975
ESA completes first environmental impact review (EIR) of Christo’s Running Fence, a 24-mile temporary fabric art piece spanning two counties in Northern California. First environmental review of a work of art. (Now a part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s permanent collection.)
1976
Muzzi Marsh restoration completed. Pioneering large-scale tidal marsh design and monitoring project that spans more than 40 years led by Madrone Associates and Philip Williams & Associates (PWA).
1979
Madrone Associates, a pioneering Marin County environmental planning firm led by Nona Dennis, join ESA. ESA Madrone employees included future ESA presidents, Gary Oates and Leslie Moulton-Post.
1980
ESA begins long-term, wide-ranging relationship with California’s Department of Water Resources (DWR) lasting more than 40 years. Work begins on the EIR/EIS for DWR’s North Bay Aqueduct.
1984
ESA moves headquarters from Foster City to San Francisco, California, strengthening partnership with the City and Port of San Francisco that continues for over 45 years, completing numerous CEQA documents and technical studies for projects throughout the city and county.
1984
ESA begins work on San Francisco’s award-winning 303-acre Mission Bay development. This new urban community would later include the SF Giants stadium, UCSF’s Medical campus, and Warriors arena.
1985
ESA prepares the landmark San Francisco Downtown Plan EIR—shaping the city’s South of Market Area (SOMA) neighborhood.
1986
ESA begins work on USS Missouri Homeporting EIS addressing the environmental implications of the U.S. Navy’s proposal to homeport the battleship and ten other warships in San Francisco Bay. Other large, controversial projects taken on by ESA at the time included the Yucca Mountain high level radioactive waste site in Nevada and the proposed low-level radioactive waste site in Southern California.
1987
Adolfson Associates opens in Seattle, Washington. A pioneering woman-owned firm specializing in wastewater infrastructure and shoreline planning.
1988
ESA Los Angeles opens. ESA embarks on CEQA review for nearly 90 projects in downtown Los Angeles that will significantly change the city’s modern skyline.
1989
ESA initiates 30-year partnership with Joyce Hsiao and her firm Orion Environmental, a women-owned Northern California environmental company specializing in water and wastewater infrastructure, completing more than 100 projects together, and counting.
1989
ESA Sacramento opens. Recognized as a leader in mounting teams of resource specialists and solutions for large multi-year projects: High Speed Rail, Oroville Dam Repair, Kings Downtown Arena, and Sacramento International Airport.
1991
ESA partners with Philip Williams on San Leandro Roberts Landing wetlands restoration project, pioneering shoreline restoration in the San Francisco Bay.
1992
ESA begins work on SFO’s master plan update. Partners with Rick Alberts of Transportation Solutions Inc., TSI, a pioneering Florida transportation planning firm specializing in highway and airport noise.
1994
ESA institutes an employee stock ownership program or ESOP as a means of sharing equity more broadly throughout the firm. Gary Oates named ESA president
1998
TSI begins environmental analyses and airport planning work for Greater Orlando Airport Authority, relationship with GOAA spans more than 20 years.
1998
ESA Oakland opens. Work for the Port of Oakland and the city spans more than 40 years including the Fruitvale Transit Village and Oakland Airport.
1999
ESA begins work with Yosemite National Park on Merced Wild and Scenic River Management Plan and EIS. ESA would continue to work with the Park on environmental planning and technical studies for another 15 years.
1999
TSI joins ESA, becoming ESA’s first office opened in the Southeast region. Rick Alberts and his staff of 6 add national noise modeling and airport planning expertise to ESA’s growing airport practice from Clearwater, Florida.
2000
Leslie Moulton-Post and Molly Adolfson begin work on King County’s Brightwater project, a large-scale water infrastructure project. The project breaks ground in 2007 and becomes operational in 2011.
2000
ESA becomes 100% employee-owned and one of the largest independently-owned environmental consulting firms headquartered on the West Coast.
2001
ESA Seattle opens. Work includes environmental studies for Bonneville Power Administration and Seattle City Light.
2001
Work on Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion begins. The project’s EIR/EIS will receive an AEP Outstanding Award in 2013. For more than 18 years ESA partners with Contra Costa Water District to ensure viable water supply.
2002
ESA Orlando opens. ESA initiates its airport planning practice.
2003
PWA begins work on South Bay Salt Ponds restoration. One of the largest tidal wetland restoration projects in the US.
2005
ESA Petaluma opens
2005
ACC joins ESA, bringing pioneering expertise in community food waste recycling and composting and helping initiate ESA’s sustainability practice. ESA develops and manages SF Giants Stadium recycling program- helping divert 3.5 million pounds of waste from landfill.
2006
Adolfson Associates join ESA. The addition of Molly Adolfson and more than 50 staff in Seattle and Portland expands ESA’s Pacific Northwest reach.
2007
ESA San Diego office opens. ESA begins work with the Bureau of Land Management on more than 20 solar projects throughout Southern California, Arizona and Nevada.
2010
PWA joins ESA. Philip Williams, a pioneering environmental hydrologist, and more than 35 hydrologists, engineers, fishery and wetland specialists help expand ESA’s habitat restoration expertise and establish its environmental hydrology and design practice.
2010
Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster occurs, and becomes largest marine oil spill in U.S. history. ESA contracts with the Gulf Consortium to fulfill work outlined in the 2012 RESTORE Act to restore and revitalize Florida’s Gulf Coast in the wake of the oil spill.
2010
ESA publishes its first Sustainability Plan. Proven environmental stewardship and sustainability principles are woven into all business plans, operating procedures and company culture.
2011
Past Forward, a California-based cultural resources firm, joins ESA.
2012
ESA’s San Francisco headquarters relocates to 550 Kearny Street.
2013
Vigil-Agrimis joins ESA. The Portland-based environmental firm adds 20 engineers and landscape architects to ESA’s growing Northwest design, engineering and habitat restoration practices.
2013
34th America’s Cup races are held for the first time in San Francisco Bay. ESA’s award-winning EIR/EA helps the City of San Francisco successfully plan for and carry out this large-scale international sporting event.
2014
Wetlands and Water Resources, a pioneering water habitat planning firm based in San Rafael, joins ESA Northern California.
2015
PCR, a pioneering Southern California planning firm based in Santa Monica, joins ESA with 3 offices and more than 50 staff. Brings large-scale planning and award-winning historic preservation experience including the Dunbar Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.
2016
2017
Oroville Dam’s dramatic spillway failure is corrected with a fast-paced, mega-remedial construction effort that included dozens of ESA scientists and cultural resources specialists.
2017
Scheda Ecological Associates, an established biological resources firm with offices in Delray Beach, Destin, Sarasota, and Tampa, Florida join ESA Southeast.
2019
The Chase Center is set to open for the Warriors 2019-2020 basketball season. The $1.2B privately financed Center and office complex, which will also house Uber’s headquarters, has helped jumpstart the transformation of the new Mission Bay neighborhood.
July 3, 2019
ESA celebrates its 50th anniversary with over 500 employee-owners working from 19 offices throughout the West Coast and Florida, partnering with more than 6,500 private clients, agencies, and organizations on work that matters.
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