Associate Planner


Under direct and general supervision, provides environmental review and project analysis for Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) and special projects in advance planning; provides complex professional staff assistance to the Assistant Community Development Director and Principal or Senior Planner, other departments, and the public in areas of environmental planning expertise; performs various professional field and office planning work related to current and advance planning, including review of development and land use applications, zoning, site plans, and environmental documents, local and regional goal and policy documents, and state law; provides project management and administration; completes technical assessments and prepares written project analysis; provides professional advice and assistance to the public on planning, community development, zoning, permits, and environmental review; provides complex professional staff assistance supervisory staff, other departments, and the public in areas of expertise; performs a variety of studies and prepares and presents staff reports; and performs related work as required.


This is the full journey-level class in the professional planning series. Incumbents are expected to perform the full range of professional and technical planning work in all of the following areas: current, advance, historic preservation, and/or environmental planning activities, and daily departmental operations, in addition to providing project management and administration. Positions at this level are distinguished from the Assistant level by the performance of the full range of duties as assigned, working independently and exercising judgment and initiative. Positions at this level receive only occasional instruction or assistance as new or unusual situations arise and are fully aware of the operating procedures and policies of the work unit. This class is distinguished from the Senior Planner in that the latter is the advanced journey-level class in the series and is responsible for organizing, assigning, and reviewing the work of departmental and/or contract staff involved in a major area of the Planning Division, in addition to performing the more complex planning and project management activities.

Positions in the professional planner class series are flexibly staffed and positions at the Associate level are normally filled by advancement from the Assistant level requiring two (2) years of experience at the Assistant-level and after gaining the knowledge, skill, experience, licenses, and certifications which meet the qualifications for and after demonstrating the ability to perform the work of the higher-level class. When filled from the outside, the employee is required to have three (3) years of experience that allows the employee to meet the qualification standards for the Associate level.


Management reserves the right to add, modify, change or rescind the work assignments of different positions and to make reasonable accommodations so that qualified employees can perform the essential functions of the job.

Prepares or assists in preparing, and/or commenting on initial studies, negative declarations, and environmental impact reports; prepares written initial studies, negative declarations, and staff reports related to development projects or City Capital Improvement Projects.  Performs coordination with outside environmental regulatory agencies such as the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and City project coordination with outside agencies such as Caltrans, the Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Toxic Substance Control, and others as needed.

Participates in interdepartmental coordination, representing the Planning Division and providing environmental review guidance for a variety of capital improvement projects.

Reviews permit applications and building plans for completeness and compliance with the General Plan, Orange Municipal Code, City policy and guidance documents, regional goals, policies and regulations, and state law; provides interpretations of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), Subdivision Map Act, and local environmental guidelines; identifies appropriate types of environmental documents for projects, reviews consultant work products, recommends, requires and/or prepares necessary mitigation measures; identifies corrective actions to be taken by owners; conducts follow-up and re-check and approves or denies submittals. Reviews routine to complex development proposals, plans, and applications in order to provide an analysis and recommendation on discretionary entitlements to decision making bodies or in order to ministerial approve Planning Division permits in compliance with applicable codes, ordinances, standards, laws, rules, regulations, goals and policies.

Reviews and, as authorized, approves plans submitted for Building plan Check, business license applications, and other ministerial permits.

Reviews CEQA statute and guidelines; attends training and reviews literature for CEQA updates, including case law decisions; advises Planning Division staff of appropriate CEQA determinations for projects; and consults with City Attorney staff, when necessary, for formulation of CEQA determination recommendations.

Assists the public at the front counter, on the phone, and via e-mail answering questions and providing information regarding zoning, land use, development standards, approved development proposals, and the City’s entitlement process; performs plan check functions for various projects; received and reviews applications for building permits for completeness; receives and records zoning and code compliance complaints, establishes appropriate files, performs inspections of violations, coordinates actions with those of other departments and agencies, and implements appropriate procedures to correct or resolve each complaint and violation.

Serves as project manager on planning and development projects, which includes application and plan review, coordination with project applicants and other City departments, preparation and posting of legal notices, background research, environmental review; preparation of staff reports, scheduling meetings and hearings, monitoring of project implementation to verify substantial conformance with approved plans, conditions and mitigation measures; suggests revisions to site plans and architecture; inspects project development sites.

Compiles information for a variety of studies and reports; researches, analyzes, and interprets social, economic, population, and land use data and trends; researches and reviews previous entitlements and City records; develops recommendations and prepares written reports on various planning matters and the City’s General Plan; participates in the implementation, administration, and maintenance of the City’s General Plan and development regulations of the Orange Municipal Code.

Researches, collects, records, analyzes, interprets, and summarizes statistical and demographic information; prepares spreadsheets and establishes and maintains a comprehensive database.

Prepares and presents staff reports for the City Council, Planning Commission, Design Review Committee, Zoning Administrator, Staff Review Committee, and various other committees and advisory boards as directed; prepare research, reports maps, and conducts briefings and meetings.

Confers with and advises architects, builders, attorneys, contractors, engineers, and the general public regarding City development policies and standards; provides and clarifies information relative to land use, zoning, code interpretation, general plan compliance, signage, and other issues.

Researches and assists in preparing ordinances for review.

Participates in coordinating City planning and development related activities with other City departments and with outside agencies.

Performs various duties related to alcoholic beverages control (ABC) and other types of business licenses.

Refers to and applies numerous documents including the General Plan, Zoning Ordinance, California Environmental Quality Act, Local CEQA Guidelines, Subdivision Map Act, State Planning laws, Orange Municipal Code, Specific Plans, emergency operations manual, historic preservation standards and guidelines, County tax assessor’s maps and records, building and architecture plans, design guidelines, etc.

Attends meetings, conferences, workshops, and training sessions; attends and participates in professional group meetings; Stays abreast of new trends and innovations in the field of urban planning and other types of public services as they relate to the area of assignment.

May provide technical direction and training to other planning and technical staff.

Performs other duties as assigned.


Knowledge of:

Modern principles and practices, technical and legal issues of environmental planning processes, with competence related to the California Environmental Quality Act, National Environmental Protection Act, and environmental permitting requirements related to the use of state and federal funding, and projects affecting waterways and sensitive biological habitat.

Urban and regional planning, zoning, demographics, and program management.

Geographic, socio-economic, transportation, political and other elements related to city planning.

Comprehensive plans and current planning processes and the development process.

Site planning and architectural design principles.

General concepts of architecture, landscaping, grading, drainage, traffic and transportation engineering as they relate to the process of urban planning.

Operational characteristics, services, and activities of a comprehensive environmental planning program.

Applicable Federal, State, and local laws, codes, and requirements and related reports.

Project management and contract administration principles and techniques.

Researching and reporting methods, techniques, and procedures.

Recent developments, current literature, and sources of information related to planning , zoning, and environmental review.

Modern office methods, practices, procedures, and equipment, including computer hardware and software necessary for graphic presentation, mapping, and database management.

Practices of researching planning and land use issues, evaluating alternatives, making sound recommendations, and preparing and presenting effective and convincing staff reports.

Principles of advanced mathematics and statistics and their application to planning work.

Methods and techniques of effective technical report preparation and presentation.

English usage, grammar, spelling, vocabulary, and punctuation.

Techniques for effectively representing the City in contacts with governmental agencies, community groups, various business, professional, educational and regulatory organizations, and with property owners, developers, contractors, and the public.

Techniques for providing a high level of customer service by effectively dealing with the public, vendors, contractors and City staff.

Ability to:

Interpret planning and zoning programs to the general public; identify and respond to issues and concerns of the public, City Council, and other boards and commissions.

Read plans and specifications and make effective site visits.

Assess, monitor, and report environmental impact on and of various City programs and services.

Analyze site design, terrain constraints, land use compatibility, utilities, and other urban services.

Conduct routine research projects, evaluate alternatives, and make sound recommendations.

Read, interpret, apply, and explain technical written material and complex Federal, State, and local policies, procedures, laws, regulations, ordinances, and City planning policies and procedures.

Read and understand technical drawings and specifications.

Perform mathematical and planning computations with precision.

Effectively represent the department and the City in meetings with governmental agencies, community groups, and various business, professional, and regulatory organizations and individuals.

Coordinate assigned activities with other City departments and agencies as required.

Direct the work of contract consultants.

Prepare and present clear, concise, and logical written and oral reports, correspondence, policies, procedures, and other written materials.

Establish and maintain a variety of filing, record-keeping, and tracking systems.

Make sound, independent decisions within established policy and procedural guidelines.

Accept and execute directions from Supervisor.

Organize and prioritize a variety of projects and multiple tasks in an effective and timely manner; organize own work, set priorities, and met critical time deadlines.

Operate modern office equipment including computer equipment and specialized software applications programs.

Use English effectively to communicate in person, over the telephone, and in writing.

Use tact, initiative, prudence, and independent judgment within general policy, procedural, and legal guidelines.

Establish, maintain, and foster positive and harmonious working relationships with those contacted in the course of work by being a proactive and effective team member.


Graduation from an accredited four-year college or university with major coursework in urban planning, community development, business or public administration, or a related field.

Three years of professional experience in environmental planning, zoning and related community development activities.

Licenses and Certifications:

Valid California Class C Driver License with satisfactory driving record and automobile insurance.


Apply via the city’s website: or at

Any questions should be directed to the City of Orange Human Resources Department.