Principal Planner

Job Information

Job Category

Environmental, Land Use, Parks Planning, Rural Planning, Urban Design

Company Name

City of Costa Mesa

Position Level


Job Description

Assumes supervisorial responsibility for major Development Services Department functions and activities including General Plan implementation, current planning, long range and environmental planning, zoning, and economic development; Participates in developing, planning and implementing Development Services Department goals and objectives; recommend and implement changes to departmental programs, policies, and procedures. Coordinates with and directs Planning staff regarding General Plan consistency, Zoning Code compliance, complex development projects, and delegation, oversight, and successful completion of assignments. Meets with developers, engineers, property owners, contractors, Department staff and other agencies to discuss potential projects, pre-applications, feasibility analysis, submitted proposals, and development projects; Prepares, reviews and presents staff reports, technical studies, and special projects to the City Council, Planning Commission, and other boards committees, and commissions. Participates in the appointment of planning staff; plan, organize, assign, direct, oversee and supervise the work of planning staff including but not limited to public notices, technical analyses, staff reports, presentations, and other supporting documents; ensure accuracy, completeness and professional competence; provide professional guidance, coach, motivate, and evaluate performance; develop and implement staff training programs and plans; recommends and administers employee recognition and discipline. Assists in the development of the departmental budget; participate in the forecast of revenue, expenses and additional funds needed for staffing, equipment, materials, and supplies. Assists in the preparation of the operational budget for assigned work section. Responds to sensitive and difficult public inquiries, complaints, and requests for information; meet with property owners, business owners, and the public to address development proposals and resolve issues. Assists management in planning activities of the division or department and in developing departmental policies, priorities, objectives and goals, and tracks and reports indicators and outcomes. Meets with and advises developers regarding development applications and processes; explains purposes, regulations and directives of accepted development practices; suggests improved design for developments. Analyzes and makes recommendations on planning applications submitted for discretionary review, including development permits, use permits, variances, subdivision maps, and master plans. Analyzes and prepares city planning studies and documents including but not limited to the comprehensive General Plan, ordinances, strategic plans, planning studies, specific plans, community plans, area plans, overlays and other similar planning documents. Directs the development of long-range fiscal and economic models and analyses. Plans, directs, coordinates, reviews and participates in data collection, analyses, plan formulation and implementation of a wide variety of planning, zoning and development programs. Analyzes workload needs and recommends staffing and other expenditures to accomplish assigned projects. Performs other related work as required. Serves as the City’s Zoning Administrator and/or staff liaison to the Planning Commission when assigned and may serve as staff liaison or support for an advisory committee or commission. Retains and administers contracts with a variety of consultants and contractors as assigned. Acts in the absence of a division manager or the Assistant Director.

Required Skills / Experience / Education

EDUCATION: Graduation from an accredited four-year college or university with major course work in urban planning, public administration, architecture, economics, geography or a related field. A master's degree in a related field is preferred. Five years of progressively responsible professional experience in urban planning preferably encompassing both long range and current planning activities. Public agency experience including direct experience working independently and administering complex development projects, special studies, Subdivision Map Act, General Plan and Municipal Codes is also required. Experience with CEQA/NEPA compliance and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is preferred. Previous supervisory experience is also preferred. An equivalent combination of education and relevant experience that provides the desired knowledge, skills and abilities to successfully perform essential functions may also be considered. SKILLS: Considerable knowledge of the principles and practices of urban planning; laws and ordinances applicable to urban planning, community development, economic development, and zoning processes; and research methods and sources of information related to urban growth and development. Knowledge of the principles of supervision, work organization, and personnel management. Knowledge of economics, statistics and elementary demographics. Skill in exercising management and budgetary principles and practices. ABILITIES: Ability to supervise and perform complex technical research on economic, engineering, transportation, zoning, redevelopment, environmental impact, urban design and sociological problems as part of the planning process. Ability to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing, and present technical information succinctly in an interesting manner. Ability to analyze and supervise the systematic compilation of technical and statistical data and to prepare complex reports. Ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships with intra and interdepartmental staff, city officials, representatives of other government agencies, community leaders, and the general public. Ability to plan, organize and supervise the work of professional, technical and clerical personnel. Ability to coordinate planning or development activities with other City sections, divisions, departments, land developers and other outside individuals. Ability to comprehend and apply laws, regulations and policies related to municipal planning or redevelopment. Ability to analyze a variety of administrative problems in the section and make sound policy and procedural decisions as to their solution.

US Citizenship Required?


Will security clearance be required?


Salary Range

$119,172 - $159,708

Other Benefits

New employees contribute 9% of their salary on a pre-tax basis towards the 2%@60 or 2%@62 CalPERS retirement formula depending on eligibility. Salary Increases: Effective July 2024: 3% increase Employees receive the following health insurance flexible benefits contribution: Current: $1,600 monthly Effective January 2025: $1,650 monthly The City does not participate in the Social Security system; however, federal mandate requires new employees to contribute 1.45% of wages to Medicare. As a condition of employment, all new employees are required to enroll and participate in the direct deposit program.

Job Start Date


Position Type

Permanent Full-Time



Primary Language Required


Job Location

Location Address

77 Fair Drive
Costa Mesa, California

Contact Information

Hiring Contact Name

Aaron Dominguez


[email protected]

Phone Number

(714) 754-4862