County of Santa Clara – Principal Planner

Under general direction, to plan, coordinate and direct the work of a major functional area such
as permitting, project management, zoning administration, or parks and recreation planning, to
manage the most politically sensitive and complex planning projects in Santa Clara County, and
to supervise professional, technical and clerical personnel.


$49.62 – $72.98 Hourly $3,969.36 – $5,838.32 Biweekly $8,600.28 – $12,649.69 Monthly
$103,203.36 – $151,796.32 Annually


  • Plans, coordinates and directs the work of a major functional planning unit;
  • Manages complex and sensitive planning applications and projects, performs research and
    analysis, and oversees the preparation of master plans, concept plans, feasibility studies,
    environmental documents and other planning-related documents;
  • Monitors and ensures compliance with Local, State and Federal laws;
  • Supervises, directs, assigns and reviews the work of subordinate staff;
  • Interviews, selects and recommends in the hiring of personnel, establishes work
    standards, evaluates the work performance of employees, forms and oversees teams, and
    provides mentoring and coaching to employees;
  • Assists in the development and implementation of the planning function’s annual work
    plan, budget, performance measures, expenditure controls and goals;
  • Evaluates and prepares reports on operations and activities, and leads improvement
    programs and projects;
  • Makes or supervises presentation of reports and studies to decision-making bodies,
    concerning County land use and development plans, policies and regulations, private
    development proposals within the unincorporated area, master plans, concept plans and
    various other matters affecting land use, parks and recreation or environmental quality in
    Santa Clara County;
  • Advises managers and confers with elected officials, local government and regional
    agencies in coordinating planning issues and the work of the office;
  • Provides or supervises staff to support the necessary functions of various county and
    inter-jurisdictional decision-making bodies or advisory committees such as Board of
    Supervisors, Parks and Recreation Commission, Planning Commission, Airport Land Use
    Commission, Historic Heritage Commission, Housing, Land Use, Environment and
    Transportation Committee, and San Martin Planning Advisory Committee;
  • Represents the County on planning matters at commission meetings or boards such as
    Bay Trail, Bay Area Ridge Trail Council South County Committee and before community
    groups and at conferences;
  • Acts as liaison to other planning agencies or special districts such as Association of Bay
    Area Governments (ABAG), Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), and Valley
    Transportation Authority (VTA);
  • May be assigned as a Disaster Service Worker, as required;
  • Performs other related work 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


Five (5) years of progressively responsible, professional experience in planning, including at
least one (1) year of responsible project or program management 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

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

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

Knowledge of:

  • State laws, guidelines, and local ordinances necessary to supervise Parks and Recreation
    Department’s Planning Unit or one or more of the major functional planning units in the
    Planning and Development Department, such as the County’s General Plan revision,
    maintenance and implementation; environmental protection regulations such as California
    Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) or National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA); and land
    use ordinances;
  • Goals, trends, concepts, principles, techniques and legal aspects of community and
    regional planning, environmental evaluation, parks and recreation, and zoning
  • Implications of physical, economic, aesthetic and social factors involved in community and
    regional planning;
  • Governmental organizations and operations and community interrelationships;
    Principles of program and personnel management and training;
    Advanced research, statistics, and math applicable to planning and property development;
  • Common computer applications such as word processing, spreadsheet, database
    management, internet, econometric or transportation modeling and geographic
    information systems.

Ability to:

  • Manage and administer effectively the activities of a functional planning unit including
    program development;
  • Select, supervise, train and evaluate professional, technical and clerical staff;
  • Organize and conduct planning research and environmental studies;
  • Understand and relate to others the aims, concepts, and principles of community, parks
    and regional planning;
  • Administer ordinances and laws related to planning projects or requests from the public;
  • Build relationships, work respectfully, tactfully and creatively with the public, boards,
    commissions, other planning agencies and staff;
  • Manage multiple projects and issues effectively and meet firm deadlines;
  • Facilitate large meetings and community workshops.