Principal Planner – City of Berkeley

The Principal Planner in the Planning Department performs a variety of professional and supervisory activities in support of the City of Berkeley’s planning services. The department has two openings, one in Projects and one in Policy.

Salary Range: $129,188.80–147,368.00 a year
Application Deadline: June 27, 2022
Link to apply:

The Principal Planner in Projects would serve co-Secretary to the Zoning Adjustments Board — scheduling items, reviewing staff reports, assuring timely production and distribution of agenda packets and assisting the Chairperson with public hearings. In addition, the Principal Planner will supervise staff and review Use Permits and Subdivisions/Condominium Conversions, assist in interpretation and analysis of the Zoning Ordinance, and serve on the Division management team. Other duties may include, but are not limited to, proposing innovations regarding the land use application process; recommending innovative project alternatives, including design alternatives; managing major multi-faceted projects, including policy plans, ordinances, site development and environmental review; and contributing to development of work plans that guide the Division’s and Department’s efforts as well as coordinating major multi-departmental projects.

The Principal Planner in Policy would serve as Secretary to the Planning Commission — scheduling items, reviewing staff reports, assuring timely production and distribution of agenda packets and assisting the Chairperson with public hearings. Their work includes addressing Council referrals, including a wide range of housing, equity, economic development, urban design, and other aspects of Zoning Ordinance and General Plan requirements, State and regional grant funded projects, the Housing Element and Residential Objective Standards.  This position supervises and trains policy staff and supports the department on inter- and intra-departmental projects.

A potential future position in the Transportation Division of the Public Works Department could oversee staff working on the Berkeley Strategic Transportation Plan, Vision Zero Plan, Transit Plan, Bicycle Plan, and Pedestrian Plan.  This would involve supervising staff assigned to lead periodic updates to each of these plans, conduct public outreach, develop conceptual plans and secure grant funding for implementation of elements of the various transportation plans.  This position would coordinate with Public Works Administrative and Fiscal Services, and regional funding agencies like Alameda County Transportation Commission and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission on developing funding plans for implementation of projects from adopted transportation plans.


Under general direction, assists with planning, organizing and directing the programs of a major planning function; supervises assigned personnel and coordinates the development of reports and recommendations regarding significant land use and community development issues; performs related work as assigned.


Principal Planner is the supervisory level with responsibility for directing major sections and work programs of one of the City’s planning functions. Incumbents are expected to demonstrate skills and knowledge particular to their assignment. Under general direction, the Principal Planner organizes, coordinates and directs various staff and activities of the zoning, long-range or transportation planning functions for policy planning, community planning, environmental programs and coordinating the planning process within the department and with other City departments, local and regional agencies and the public; supervises the preparation of major technical planning projects and reports.

Principal Planner is distinguished from the Planning Manager in that the latter has division level responsibilities for the overall direction and administration of one of the City’s planning functions. Principal Planner differs from the class of Senior Planner in that it has full supervisory responsibilities, including completing performance evaluations and counseling for performance improvement.

Required Qualifications


Equivalent to graduation from a four year college or university with major course work in city or regional planning, urban planning, or a closely related field and five (5) years of responsible and complex planning experience. Experience in dealing with citizen participation-based planning efforts and citizen boards and commissions is desirable.


Must be able to travel to various locations within and outside the City of Berkeley to meet the program needs and to fulfill the job responsibilities. When driving on City business, maintenance of a valid California driver’s license and satisfactory driving record is required.

Knowledge and Abilities

Note: The level and scope of the knowledge and skills listed below are related to job duties as defined under Class Characteristics.

Knowledge of:

1. Objectives, principles, standards, and trends in the fields of advance, current and/or transportation planning;

2. Land use, physical design, and demographics; and environmental, social and economic concepts;

3. Local, State and federal laws applicable to planning, zoning, subdivision and environmental review, including but not limited to, the California Environmental Quality Act, Permit Streamlining Act, Subdivision Map Act, and the State of California Planning and Zoning Law;

4. Application of and interrelationships between ordinances, policies, procedures, standards and practices associated with the planning function;

5. Computer technology and statistical analysis related to municipal planning;

6. Functions and practices of City and other governmental agencies; functions and practices of municipal planning;

7. Methods and practices of community organization and citizen participation; and

8. Modern supervisory principles and practices, including work program planning and organization, and goals and objectives development;

Skill in:

1. Being an engaged and active listener and a strong and effective communicator;

2. Performing a variety of assignments, such as the collection, analysis and preparation of reports and recommendations on complex issues, with initiative and independent judgment;

3. Being sensitive to the needs of a diverse urban community;

4. Planning , organizing, assigning, reviewing and evaluating the work of assigned staff;

5. Developing strong team work ethic among assigned staff;

6. Interpreting laws, policies, procedures, regulations, maps, specifications, site and building plans, graphs and statistical data;

7. Assisting the organization in developing and improving professional standards of performance and public service;

8. Analyzing complex operational and administrative problems, evaluating alternatives and recommending and/or implementing effective courses of action;

9. Directing staff in developing and implementing individual performance goals, objectives and work standards; applying work standards and management controls;

10. Preparing clear, concise and accurate reports, correspondence and other written materials;

11. Dealing effectively and tactfully with the public, City staff, including other City departments and divisions, other agencies, board and commission members, homeowners, contractors, developers, design professionals, and others;

12. Establishing and maintaining cooperative working relationships with those contacted in the course of work; facilitating meetings with citizens, organizations, professionals to solve problems;

13. Providing technical leadership and staff leadership to various boards and commissions; and

14. Working effectively and cooperatively and provide leadership with other City departments and divisions in the review and coordination of planning projects.

Application Process

The City of Berkeley reserves the right to modify the selection process, date of examination(s), and other elements as necessary to conform to administrative, business, or regulatory necessity. All applicants invited to the examination(s) will be notified of date, time, and place of examination(s). Based on a review of the applications, a limited number of the best qualified applicants will be invited to participate in the selection process, which may include a qualifying written examination, structured oral board interview, written exercise, or other elements determined by the City to be appropriate.

The examination process will consist of:

I.  Review of applications for minimum qualifications for the position and to ensure all materials have been submitted.

II. Training & Experience Assessment – Weighted 100%.
Candidates will be assessed based on their application materials indicating current and previous experience, education, and other work experience materials. Based on this assessment, candidates will be placed on an employment eligible list.

III. Departmental Interviews
Only a limited number of the best qualified applicants will be invited to participate in the selection process, which may include a structured oral interview and/or practical exercise. Invited candidates will be contacted directly.

Applicants passing all examination phases will have their names placed on an employment eligible list that hiring department(s) will use to conduct final selection interviews. The eligibility list established from this recruitment may be used to fill other vacancies that occur within the City including career, temporary, provisional or part-time roles, if applicable. Hiring Department(s) will contact applicants directly if selected to participate in their hiring/selection process.

Applicants are required to submit criminal history information upon request after receiving a conditional offer of employment. If the requested information is not furnished in a timely manner, applicants will not qualify for further consideration and will be removed from the eligible list.
Candidates under final consideration for employment with the City should expect to undergo an employment background / reference check that may include, but is not limited to: employment history, confirmation of educational credentials and degrees, licenses including driver’s license, registrations, certificates, and other credentials as part of the appointment process. Some positions, depending on the nature of the work, also require a credit check and a review of Summary Criminal History obtained from the State Department of Justice through Live Scan fingerprinting.
STATEMENT OF ECONOMIC INTERESTS: Incumbents in this classification must file a Statement of Economic Interests in accordance with State regulations.

DISCLAIMER: The provisions of this bulletin do not constitute a contract, expressed or implied, and any provisions contained in this bulletin may be modified or revoked without notice. Tests may consist of any combination of written, oral or other exercises or assessment procedures that test content. Components may include, but are not necessarily limited to, typing, math, reading, writing and analytical skills; problem solving ability; computer and software proficiency, or any other job-related knowledge, skill, ability or qualification. The City may, without notice, change or eliminate any particular assessment component or combination of components as needs dictate.