Job Title: Principal Planner (Advance Planning & Special Projects)

Job Location: Carlsbad

Employer Website:

Job Description:

The Position

A world class city is seeking world class talent.

Carlsbad -The Community: Carlsbad is a well-balanced community with beaches, lagoons, habitat preserves, a variety of housing types, world class employers, Legoland, the second highest number of hotel rooms in San Diego County, a successful auto dealership core, two golf resorts and a municipal golf course, two rail stations, a thriving downtown village, and an engaged public. This balance has been achieved not by accident, but in part through the efforts of a strong team of experienced planners. From translation of the community’s vision into ambitious General Plan goals and policies and application of rigorous growth management principles that ensure public facilities, open space and infrastructure are provided in conjunction with development, to consistent implementation of zoning rules and development codes, the Planning Division is at the forefront of ensuring that Carlsbad’s high quality of life is maintained and the city continues to evolve in a manner valued by the community.

In addition to the many benefits that the City offers, incumbents will have the option of a 9/80 work schedule, a professional membership fee paid, and a variety of training and career advancement opportunities (please see the benefits tab and our website for benefit details).

Ideal Candidate: The City of Carlsbad has one position open in the department for a Principal Planner for the Advance Planning and Special Projects Section. The ideal candidate for this position will have documented experience working on complex and controversial land use policy issues, along with strong analytical, written and verbal communication skills. Prospective candidates must be effective in managing staff and project teams, project management, adherence to timelines, able to successfully prioritize, often competing work assignments, effective time and resource management, and adapt well to changing circumstances. They must be able to exercise good judgment, discretion and initiative in carrying out job duties and be a self-starter. The following is a brief overview of work at present in Advance Planning:

Advance Planning and Special Projects Section: The position is responsible for project oversite and staff management of the Advanced Planning and Special Projects Section of the department and will report to the City Planner. The section is responsible for creating, amending and updating the city’s land use laws, policies and programs and other special assignments as needed.  Some of the more significant land use regulations that that are managed and maintained by this section include the city’s General Plan, Growth Management Plan, Local Coastal Program, Zoning Code, several master/specific plans, and department policies and programs. Additionally, the section is responsible for reviewing city capital improvement projects for other departments with a primary focus on providing direction to project managers regarding compliance with environmental regulations and city ordinances (i.e., community parks, fire station improvements, and utility improvements).

Key Responsibilities


  • Staff oversight of the Advanced Planning and Special Projects Section including staff supervision, project assignments, and guidance for other assigned professional staff
  • Responsible for maintaining, updating and amending the city’s land use regulations
  • Identify and implement processes improvements that streamline and simplify the permit review process
  • Develop, timely implement and maintain a division work plan that describes the work assignments that will be processed by the section over the next rolling two-year period.
  • Assist in coordinating a program of staff assistance to the Planning Commission and other commissions and committees in planning matters, including the preparation of reports and recommendations.
  • Assist in developing policies, rules and procedures for the effective operation of the department, including establishing goals and objectives and priorities.
  • Coordinate routine departmental purchasing, personnel, budget and related administrative activities.
  • Review and authorize written reports developed by subordinate staff; prepares reports for the City Council and the Planning Commission; review and authorize Notices of Decisions relative to development projects; write staff reports to the Planning Commission and City Council for projects or policy interpretation.
  • Make oral presentations to Planning Commission and to the City Council and other boards and commissions as required.
  • Make authoritative interpretations of applicable regulations and policies.
  • Respond to difficult citizen complaints and requests for information.
  • Represent the city at community or professional meetings; make presentations as required.
  • Oversee the preparation of ordinances, resolutions and reports to the City Council, Planning Commission and others regarding departmental planning activities.
  • Assist in developing and administering division budget; provides budget oversight of expenditures for assigned division, including consultant payments, payments for legal notices, conferences and training, and supplies and materials
  • Direct staff in implementation of General Plan implementation, including Housing Element programs. Reviews, interpret and implement new state laws.
  • Assign work to subordinate personnel, providing instructions and answering questions: coordinate the scheduling and completion of work by determining operational priorities and resolving work load problems; review work for accuracy and completeness: evaluate work techniques and methods for conformance to established standards.
  • Coordinate program activities with other city departments and divisions, and with outside agencies.
  • Perform other related duties as assigned.



To perform a job in this classification, an individual must be able to perform the essential duties as generally described in the specification.  Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential duties in a specific job.  The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill and/or ability required.

Knowledge of:

  • Principles and practices applicable to planning, redevelopment and housing programs.
  • Applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations.
  • Organization and functions of the various agencies involved in the planning process.
  • Principles and practices of organization, administration, budgeting and supervision.
  • Research methods and techniques and methods of report presentation.

Ability to:

  • Supervise, train and evaluate staff.
  • Manage day-to-day operations of planning activities.
  • Communicate clearly and concisely, orally and in writing.
  • Prepare and interpret ordinances and formulate land use and housing policies.
  • Collect and analyze data and develop complex plans and reports.
  • Develop and implement work plans for complex projects and programs.
  • Establish and maintain cooperative relationships with city officials and employees, the general public and representatives of other agencies.
  • Properly interpret and make decisions in accordance with laws, regulations and policies.
  • Analyze problems, identify alternative solutions, project consequences of proposed actions, and implement recommendations in support of goals.
  • Exercise good judgment, flexibility, creativity, and sensitivity in response to changing situations and needs.
  • Work well under pressure to meet deadlines.


Experience & Education

Any combination equivalent to the experience and education that could likely provide the required knowledge and abilities is qualifying.  A typical way to obtain the knowledge and abilities would be:

  • Equivalent to a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with major work in planning, public administration, community development, urban design or related field, and
  • Seven years of increasingly responsible professional planning, redevelopment or housing experience with three years of experience in a supervisory role.


  • A master’s degree in planning, public administration, business administration or related field
  • American Institute of Certified Planner certification

Link or email to apply:

Apply by date: 07/11/2022