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City of Torrance
Class Code: 3313

Class Designation: Civil Service

August 2003

Representation Unit: Executive and Management Employees


Principal Planner


Under general direction, organizes and manages the programs, activities and services of the Division including research, analysis and design in the preparation and implementation of a comprehensive long-range General Plan for the physical development of the City; development review programs; environmental review; administration of the zoning ordinance and City codes; administration of City redevelopment and housing projects; and performs other related work as required.

Distinguishing Characteristics

Distinguished from Community Development Director in that the incumbent is not responsible for managing the entire Department. Distinguished from Planning Associate in that the Planning Associate does not manage a division of the Department. Work is performed within a broad framework of general policy and requires creativity and resourcefulness to accomplish goals and objectives and to apply concepts, plans and strategies that may deviate from traditional methods and practices. Work is reviewed for overall results.

Supervision Exercised/Received

Receives general direction from the Community Development Director; provides direct supervision over professional-level planning positions and office support personnel.

Examples Of Duties

The following duties represent the principal job duties. however, they are not all inclusive.
  • Plans and directs the work of staff including: training, assigning, reviewing, evaluating work performance, coordinating activities, maintaining standards, allocating personnel, selecting new employees, acting on employee problems and recommending employee discipline;
  • Develops and monitors the divisional and departmental budgets and establishes budgetary controls;
  • Develops, implements and evaluates plans, policies and procedures to achieve annual goals and objectives;
  • Monitors staff's performance, and coaches for improvement and development;
  • Develops and implements the City's General Plan by gathering, compiling, and analyzing data on economic, social, and physical factors affecting land use;
  • Reviews, evaluates, investigates and makes recommendations on environmental, planning, redevelopment, housing, zoning, and subdivision matters;
  • Conducts land use and environmental studies to devise and recommend arrangements of land and physical facilities for residential, commercial, industrial, and community uses;
  • Complies information necessary for capital improvement programs;
  • Prepares financial data for the annual City budget;
  • Confers with the public and governmental officials on planning, redevelopment and housing matters;
  • Prepares and/or reviews correspondence;
  • Prepares and reviews comprehensive technical reports for the City Manager, Commissions and City Council;
  • Coordinates projects with other City departments and agencies as required;
  • Attends meetings, including Commission and Council meetings and represents the Department in the absence of the Department Head;
  • Participates on interdepartmental and intradepartmental teams, committees and boards as required;
  • Keeps abreast of current planning principles and practices, regulations and literature that apply to City projects.
  • Examples of Other Duties

    The following represent duties that are generally performed by this position, but are not considered to be principal job duties.
  • Assists in establishing departmental disaster plan as part of City wide disaster plan;
  • May participate in emergency callout and after hour support coordination;
  • Participates in EOC operations as needed;
  • Receives and responds to public inquiries and requests for information and assistance and takes appropriate action to resolve problems;
  • Performs other related duties as required.
  • Qualification Guidelines

    Knowledge of
  • Principles and practices of local planning;
  • Techniques and processes involved in the preparation and implementation of long-range and General Plans, redevelopment plans, and housing programs;
  • Federal and State housing, environmental and planning law and other planning legislation;
  • California Redevelopment Law;
  • California Subdivision Map Act;
  • Zoning principles practices techniques and standards;
  • Techniques of zoning administration and development review;
  • Housing and Community Development trends, goals and objectives;
  • Management and supervisory principles and practices including supervision and employee relations;
  • Principles of budget preparation budget estimation and tracking;
  • Applicable local, State and Federal regulations;
  • Hazards and generally accepted safety standards;
  • City ordinances and administrative rules and regulations affecting departmental operations and personnel matters;
  • General City operations.

    Ability to

  • Analyze and interpret complex planning and design/development and housing data, assess land use proposals and issue recommendations for special planning and zoning studies and projects;
  • Review design and drafting work such as base maps, land use maps, zoning maps, charts, and visual aids;
  • Organize and participate in public hearings, analyze proposals and make recommendations;
  • Supervise the work of subordinate staff including coordinating, assigning, monitoring and evaluating work, hiring and training, counseling and disciplining staff, and processing grievances;
  • Schedule work tasks and major projects;
  • Interpret and apply Memoranda of Understanding, City ordinances and administrative rules and regulations affecting departmental operations and personnel matters;
  • Develop and monitor a divisional budget and establish budgetary controls;
  • Develop clear, concise, and comprehensive studies, reports, and agenda items;
  • Understand and carry out oral and written directions;
  • Review and prepare effective written reports;
  • Communicate effectively orally and in writing;
  • Make effective oral presentations to City Commissions, the City Council and other groups;
  • Establish and maintain effective working relationships with City employees, City Commissioners, public officials, private and community organizations and the public.
  • License Required

    An appropriate, valid California driver's license.

    Education and Experience

    Any combination of education and experience that would have provided the required knowledge and skills is qualifying. A typical way to obtain the knowledge and skills would be:

    Graduation from an accredited college or university with a major in City or regional planning, architecture, landscape architecture, geography, public administration, engineering, or closely related field and three (3) years of progressively responsible professional urban planning in a local government office which includes technical work in at least two of the following areas: General Plan preparation and maintenance, design review administration, California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) administration, redevelopment administration or housing administration.

    A Master's Degree in Planning may be substituted for one year of the required experience.

    Special Requirements

    Performance of the essential duties of this position includes the following physical demands and/or working conditions:

    Requires the ability to exert a small amount of physical effort in sedentary to light work involving moving from one area of the office to another. requires sufficient hand/eye coordination to perform semi-skilled repetitive movements, such as using a computer key board. Tasks require sound and visual perception and discrimination, as well as oral communications ability. Tasks are regularly performed without exposure to adverse environmental conditions.

    Career Ladder Information

    Experience gained in this classification may serve towards meeting the minimum requirements for promotion to Community Development Director.