County of Santa Clara – Associate Planner

Under general direction, to provide service to the public and permit applicants, to review and process development applications for cities, agencies and other county departments, to conduct planning studies, feasibility studies, master plans and concept plans, to perform research and analysis of planning data, and to assist in the administration of zoning, planning, or parks and recreation development programs.

The Associate Planner at the Department of Planning and Development is responsible for reviewing, analyzing, and processing land use applications (Use Permit, Subdivision, and Design Review) or working on comprehensive planning projects, including amendments to the Zoning Ordinance and an upcoming update to the County’s General Plan focused on regional sustainability. Responsibilities include writing staff reports, preparing environmental documents, and making presentations at public meetings and hearings.




  • Participates in the development and management of planning studies, feasibility studies, master plans and concept plans, coordinates the work on minor projects, and reports on topics, such as land use, housing, historic resources, environmental impacts and economic development, in support of new or updated plan policies, regulations or programs;
  • Analyzes and reviews land development applications, site plans and building permit applications for completeness and conformance with policies, ordinances, master plans, concept plans, County General Plan, conditions of approval, and State and Federal regulations, prepares conditions of approval where necessary, and takes discretionary action on certain land development projects that are reviewed at the staff level, making required findings;
  • Abstracts information from aerial photographs, subdivision maps, census reports, building permits, etc., for analysis in planning studies;
  • Analyzes geographic information systems data and creates maps;
  • Prepares maps, plans, graphs, and other visual aids;
  • Performs field inspections to gather data relevant to planning projects and the development review process and/or to verify that development projects comply with approved plans or to initiate actions necessary to correct violations of regulations or project conditions;
  • Prepares recommendations and presents detailed reports on development applications, master plans, concept plans, feasibility studies and other planning-related documents to decision-making bodies such as Board of Supervisors, Parks and Recreation Commission, Planning Commission, Airport Land Use Commission, Historical Heritage Commission, Housing, Land Use, Environment and Transportation Committee, and San Martin Planning Advisory Committee;
  • Enters development permit information and permit process workflow data in a central database;
  • Tracks application and project expenses and verifies the accuracy of invoices;
  • Coordinates staff, agency and community review of development applications, zoning and plan amendments;
  • Answers inquiries and provides general information to the public regarding land use projects, permitting procedures, development policies, plans, zoning ordinances and other regulations;
  • Provides information to the public regarding the permitting and development review requirements of other County departments such as Fire Marshal’s Office, Environmental Health, Land Development Engineering, Geology, Roads and Airports, and Building, and County programs such as Williamson Act, Historic Preservation, and the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Plan;
  • Provides customer support for the preparation and processing of routine to moderately difficult development applications, re-zonings, and plan amendments;
  • Writes and delivers presentations;
  • Participates in meetings, conferences, and workshops;
  • Prepares environmental documents in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) such as Categorical Exemptions, Negative Declarations or Addendum to Environmental Impact Reports;
  • Conducts in-depth property specific research including the review of deeds and other legal documents;
  • Conducts outreach to community groups, government agencies, developers and the public to encourage participation, resolve problems or obtain input;
  • Resolves issues and complaints from the public or neighbors and permit applicants;
  • Attends evening meetings;
  • May be assigned as a Disaster Service Worker, as required;
  • Performs related duties as required.


Possession of a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college with a major in planning, architecture, engineering, landscape architecture, natural resources, social science or related field;


Two (2) years of professional planning experience. A Master’s degree in planning may be substituted for two (2) years of the required experience. A Master’s degree in a closely related field may be substituted for one (1) year of the required experience.

Possession of a valid California Driver’s License prior to appointment and the ability to qualify for and maintain a County Driver’s Permit.

Possession of license, registration or certification in a related field, such as American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP), is desirable.

Knowledge of:

  • Principles and practices of planning and zoning administration;
  • Environmental protection regulations such as California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Clean Water Act, National Historic Preservation Act, and Endangered Species Act;
  • State and local laws pertaining to land use such as Williamson Act, Historic Preservation Program, and Santa Clara Valley Habitat Plan;
  • Relationship of land use planning to the requirements of other County departments such as Fire Marshal’s Office, Environmental Health, Land Development Engineering, Geology, Roads and Airports, and Building;
  • Principles of effective customer service;
  • Research, report writing and presentation techniques;
  • Statistics and math applicable to planning and property development;
  • Common computer applications such as word processing, spreadsheet, database management, internet, and geographic information systems.

Ability to:

  • Review project descriptions, plans or field conditions and apply policy and code provisions to determine conformance;
  • Interpret the zoning ordinance and other policy documents;
  • Perform research and analysis of data; Prepare clear and concise reports;
  • Communicate technical reports, policies and ordinances to the public and decision-making bodies;
  • Build relationships and work respectfully, tactfully and creatively with the public, agencies and staff;
  • Speak and write effectively;
  • Manage multiple projects and issues effectively and meet firm deadlines;
  • Work independently or in a team environment.