City of Morgan Hill – Principal Planner

JOB SUMMARY:  Under direction of the Development Services Director or designee, the Principal Planner conducts various professional activities related to the City’s land use planning program, including serving as project manager for long-range planning, special studies environmental review, data analysis and related work as required.  The Principal Planner acts as a front-line manager, supervising professional planning staff including Associate Planners, Assistant Planners and/or Planning Technicians to implement the City’s land use planning program.  The Principal Planner is expected to have substantial experience and expertise in the field of land use planning and to apply knowledge and skills gained through specialized training and depth of experience to complete complex long-range and/or current planning projects or assignments.  The position requires the exercise of considerable initiative and discretion; the use independent judgment; and excellent communication and coordination skills.

CLASS CHARACTERISTICS: This classification is the advanced level classification in the professional planning series. The Principal Planner is distinguished from other Planning classifications by the performance of the most complex planning tasks requiring a high degree of knowledge related to all areas of current and advanced planning and responsibility for an assigned area such as zoning administration, general plan administration, Residential Development Control System (RDCS) administration and special projects. The Principal Planner is further distinguished by the performance of lead supervisory activities such as assigning work, monitoring project progress and providing technical assistance and training to other professional and technical staff. Assignments are broad in scope and require the use of considerable independent judgment in making technical decisions and guiding work to completion. Employees at this level are required to be fully trained in all operating procedures and policies related to assigned areas of responsibility, work independently and exercise judgment and initiative. This classification is distinguished from the Director in that the latter has overall management responsibility for the Division.

Principal Planner is a supervisory position within the Development Services Department and is responsible for managing all Long Range planning activities.  This position is also responsible for General Plan and Zoning Ordinance updates.  The Principal Planner is a critical member of the Development Services senior leadership team, including Planning, Affordable Housing and Economic Development and as a part of this team will help position policy and guiding documents in conformance with State law, regional initiatives and Council preferences.

Critical upcoming workplan activities include:

  • Housing Element Update;
  • Revised RHNA allocation and Proposed Santa Clara County RHNA Subregion formation;
  • Implementation of changes to policy documents, General Plan and Specific Plans resulting from state housing legislation;
  • Amendments and or update to the Downtown Specific plan;
  • Morgan Hill Transit Center master planning with Santa Clara Valley Transportation Agency (VTA);
  • Potential expanded CALTRAIN service and the impacts of California High Speed Rail (HSR).

This position will also help manage expectations and progress related to implementation of the City’s Agricultural Mitigation and Conservation policies, UGB discussions with County partners, the Economic Blueprint and may be called upon to help guide significant large scale developments with General Plan, zoning and policy documentation implications.

To be considered for this exciting opportunity, please apply on-line at and submit the following items:

  • A completed City of Morgan Hill employment application
  • Cover Letter highlighting your experience as it relates to the current assignment
  • Detailed Resume

Please note only completed application packets will be reviewed.  The first screening of applications is scheduled for Friday, July 26, 2019.

Recruitment Timeline
Tentative Interviews:  Week of August 12, 2019
Tentative Start Date:  September 2019

The following duties are performed individually, in cooperation with the Development Services Director or designee and/or in coordination with other City staff and community groups. Additional duties may be assigned.

Long Range Planning
Serving in a lead role for special long-range planning projects, such as a comprehensive General Plan update, preparation of area plans, zoning code changes, or other special studies achieves the following outcomes:

  • Completion of complex, long-range planning projects consistent with work program timelines.
  • Assume responsibility for the development and administration of the General Plan and specific plans and amendments thereto; prepare planning recommendations, plans, and consistency determinations; prepare annual reports on implementation.
  • Advancement of land use planning “best practices” within Morgan Hill.
  • A demonstrated commitment to providing adequate opportunity for community stakeholders to be fully engaged within the City’s long-term planning and land use policy development processes.
  • Successful collaboration with representatives of other cities, the County and other public agencies which have an interest in land use planning in Morgan Hill.

As a member of the Departmental management team, participate in strategic planning to accomplish Departmental objectives, provide mentoring and expertise to support the planning team and serve as a front-line supervisor to achieve the following outcomes:

  • Use of effective communication, delivery of high-quality customer service, and establishment of positive working relationships with members of the community, elected officials, appointed boards and commissions, teammates in other City departments, staff of outside agencies,  development industry representatives, and other stakeholders, promoting a positive image for the City team.
  • Provide responsible staff assistance to the Development Services Director and Assistant City Manager for Development Services.
  • Compliance with applicable state laws, including the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and others as applicable.
  • Consistency with work program objectives, project processing timelines and other performance measures.
  • Efficient and timely delivery of planning services.
  • Full cost-recovery conduct of the land use entitlement process.
  • Professional development opportunities for teammates leading to increased overall performance.
  • Selection, management and supervision of consultants to provide expedited permitting and CEQA review consistent with Departmental budget objectives.

To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to achieve the essential accountabilities and expected outcomes satisfactorily. Any combination of education, training, and experience that would likely provide the required knowledge, skills, and abilities is qualifying.

Education & Experience:

  1. Possess a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college in urban planning, architecture, public administration or field closely related to the work.
  2. Five years of city planning experience.
  3. Experience in municipal land use planning is required.

Licenses & Certificates:
Possession of a valid California Class C driver’s license in compliance with adopted City driving
Other Requirements:
Must be willing to attend evening and weekend meetings.

Ability to:

  1. Manage complex near-term and long-term land use planning projects consistent with the City’s objectives for timeliness and quality.
  2. Exercise sound independent judgment within general policy guidelines.
  3. Establish and maintain effective working relationships with those contacted in the course of the work.
  4. Represent the City effectively in meetings with others.
  5. Prepare clear, concise and competent reports, correspondence, and other written materials.
  6. Perform the essential functions of this position.