Environmental Planners

  • San Diego Association of Governments - SANDAG
  • San Diego, CA, USA
Full Time Government

Job Description

Environmental Planning Program

The Department of Land Use and Transportation Planning (LUTP) coordinates the development of San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan (Plan), a framework that connects land use to transportation systems, responds to population growth, preserves the environment, and sustains economic prosperity. The Plan is a long-range blueprint for a sustainable future for the San Diego region that includes new investments in the transportation system, conservation of more open space areas to preserve natural habitat, reliance on renewable energy, and planning for and adapting to climate change in the region.

The Environmental Planning team provides expertise by leading the environmental review, permitting, and regulatory compliance activities for the SANDAG Capital Improvement Program, as well as conducting the environmental review for planning programs. Preparation of the 2019 Regional Plan is currently underway, and the Plan along with the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) are scheduled for final consideration by the SANDAG Board of Directors in Spring 2020.

Environmental Planner Roles

Two Environmental Planning positions are available. One position will support the environmental review, monitoring, and reporting functions related to capital project implementation. The second position will support the preparation of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) for San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan.

These are Limited-Term positions. One position, in support of capital project implementation, is expected to be funded through June 30, 2022. The second position, in support of preparation of the EIR for the 2019 Regional Plan, is expected to be funded through June 30, 2021. Limited-Term Employees are considered to be “at-will” and receive many of the benefits of Regular employees.

Job Responsibilities

These positions are ideal for planning professionals with a strong interest in furthering their expertise in regional environmental planning, project implementation, and environmental compliance. We anticipate significant career development will occur while working on the types of duties and responsibilities described below and through mentoring and close collaboration with senior staff. Examples of primary responsibilities may include:

In support of Capital Project Implementation:

  • Review construction bid specifications and verify all environmental mitigation measures and regulatory permit conditions and/or regulatory requirements are properly included; coordinate with construction management teams and project consultants to identify creative solutions to problems that may occur as projects are implemented.
  • Consult with project managers, employees from federal, state, and local agencies, and project partners to develop scopes of work for environmental review projects and technical studies; conduct initial studies or assessments to determine the type and scope of environmental documents required.
  • Conduct and participate in field site visits, including those held with regulatory resource agencies, project construction managers, and construction contractors; assist with conducting onsite inspections to verify compliance with mitigation responsibilities and regulatory permit requirements.
  • Coordinate and review prepared environmental compliance monitoring reports, including daily/weekly logs and required reporting.
  • Liaise with a wide variety of interest groups involved in environmental issues concerning endangered species, habitat preservation, and open space.
  • Coordinate with various federal, state, and local agencies including the Federal Railroad Administration, Federal Transit Administration, Caltrans, Metropolitan Transit System, North County Transit District, and other agencies regarding regulatory resource permitting and compliance; assist with the preparation and processing of permit applications including the review and negotiation of permit conditions and mitigation strategies.

In support of 2019 Regional Plan EIR Preparation:

  • Conduct and participate in the research, development, writing, analysis, and review of all facets of the EIR.
  • Participate in preparing the contents of the CEQA Administrative Record in accordance with legal requirements and direction from legal counsel.
  • Participate in the management and oversight of the EIR consultant; provide detailed, thorough review and comments on consultant work products, and ensure that work products are produced on schedule, within the approved budget, and at a consistent high level of quality.
  • Coordinate with SANDAG staff, legal counsel, EIR consultant staff, and other public agencies to gather and relay relevant data, analyses, figures, comments, input, and other information; ensure deliverables are received within the required timeframes.

For both positions:

  • Assist with the preparation of environmental documents pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and CEQA requirements for various long-range plans and projects. Documents include EIRs, Environmental Impact Statements (EIS), Negative Declarations, Environmental Assessments, and other related documents.
  • Participate in the development and review of technical studies related to air quality, noise, water quality, visual quality, cultural resources, and biological resources; coordinate with consultants assisting with the preparation of technical studies and ensure these are conducted in accordance with federal and state requirements.
  • Coordinate public outreach efforts and liaise with public interest groups; prepare summary reports and presentations for elected officials, member agencies, committees, community groups, private organizations, and members of the public; attend community meetings and compile public comments submitted as part of this process.

Experience and Qualifications

For these positions, we are searching for candidates who have a strong technical background and an aptitude for analytical thinking and problem solving, who are responsible, organized, and demonstrate initiative. Excellent communication skills, the ability to work collaboratively, and the use of sound judgment are important.

The minimum education, training, and experience qualifications include a bachelor’s degree with major course work in regional/environmental planning, environmental science, geography, or a related field and one to four years of progressive career development in environmental planning. The following information describes the specific types of career experiences that are most relevant to these positions.

  • Knowledge of the principles, current trends, and issues related to comprehensive regional planning, particularly in the areas of environmental planning, environmental mitigation, and natural resources.
  • Experience supporting environmental review activities associated with the preparation of long-range plans and capital project development; experience working with policies in relation to environmental assessment and impact analysis.
  • Experience participating in or supporting technical studies, analyses, or modeling related to environmental topics addressed in CEQA, such as air quality, local air pollution exposure, traffic and circulation, EIR alternatives, agricultural lands, or biological resources.
  • Knowledge of federal, state, and local laws, regulations, and requirements pertaining to environmental planning specifically NEPA and CEQA; familiarity with current political trends related to these areas is desirable.
  • Experience participating in the development of EIRs, EIS’, Negative Declarations, Environmental Assessments, or other environmental compliance documents; familiarity with program-level EIRs for large-scale plans is desirable.
  • Experience participating in the planning and delivery of projects and tracking the progress of deliverables, schedules, and budgets; experience or ability to monitor consultants, review invoices, and participate in various contract administration functions.
  • Experience working with federal, state, and local agencies to obtain environmental clearances for major capital projects.
  • Ability to provide support to project managers on environmental planning and regulatory permitting.
  • Experience reviewing plans and environmental documents for consistency with planning policies and objectives.
  • Strong writing skills and the ability to communicate technical information effectively, both orally and in writing; ability to prepare clear and concise reports that present research results and recommendations.
  • Demonstrated ability to maintain and foster productive working relationships with local agencies, communities, organizations, stakeholders, and other SANDAG departments; ability to coordinate public outreach efforts to inform, educate, and involve the public in the environmental review process.
  • Possession of a valid California driver’s license or the ability to obtain one. The final candidate must successfully pass a pre-employment driving record check, and annual driving record checks will be a condition of employment.

Salary and Benefits

SANDAG rewards the efforts of its employees with a comprehensive compensation package. Competitive salaries are supplemented with a flexible offering of health, financial security, and time-off benefits to meet the work and life needs of employees and their families.

These positions will be filled at the Planner I, II, or Associate level depending on qualifications and experience of the selected candidates. The annual salary ranges are: Planner I - $48,522 to $77,635 per year; Planner II - $53,496 to $85,593 per year; Associate Planner - $58,979 to $94,366 per year.

Our benefits include traditional health, dental, and vision insurance as well as employee assistance, wellness, and work/life balance programs. Retirement and financial security benefits are provided through a pension plan and deferred compensation program. And to support the need to rest and rejuvenate, employees are provided with a bank of paid time off in addition to paid holidays.

How to Apply

We encourage all interested candidates to apply for these positions by completing a SANDAG Employment Application form. Resumes, cover letters, and work samples may be submitted in addition to the Employment Application but are not a substitute for this document.

The Employment Application can be downloaded in PDF format from the SANDAG website. Alternatively, a copy can be requested by calling (619) 699-1900 or emailing hr@sandag.org. Completed applications and related materials can be submitted via email, fax, regular mail, courier, or delivered by hand. See our Careers / How to Apply webpage for additional information.

These positions are Open Until Filled. The first review of applications will begin on November 9. 2018. When submitting your application, please identify which position you are applying for or if you would like to be considered for both positions.

In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), SANDAG will accommodate persons who require assistance in order to apply for a position at SANDAG. Applicants requiring an accommodation due to a disability during any stage of the recruitment and selection process, including requesting this document and related application materials in an alternative format, should make their needs known by contacting Human Resources at (619) 699-1900, (619) 699-1904 (TTY), fax (619) 699-6905, or hr@sandag.org.

Application Supplement

To help us further evaluate the skills and experience of individuals interested in these positions, applicants are asked to respond to the Supplemental Question below. The information can be up to 500 words and should be submitted with the Employment Application. This is considered a required component of the application; applications received without a response will be screened out of the selection process.

Supplemental Questions:

  1. Provide an overview of an environmental planning project or study you have been involved in. Outline the tasks you were responsible for and describe your most significant contribution to the project.
  2. How would you explain the purpose of CEQA and its role in the planning process to someone who is unfamiliar with this environmental law?

Candidate Selection and Notification

Following the first review date for applications, candidates will receive written confirmation that their application has been received. The hiring manager will begin reviewing and evaluating applications within a few days of the first review date. Based on this evaluation, the best qualified candidates will be invited to continue in the selection process. All candidates will receive written notification as to the final outcome of their application.

Further Information

The SANDAG website contains a wealth of information about our various project and program areas. The Careers section of the site lists all of our current Job Openings as well as information on how to apply for positions and Frequently Asked Questions about our recruitment process.

In compliance with the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, applicants hired by SANDAG must show acceptable proof of identity and evidence of authorization to work in the United States.

SANDAG is an Equal Opportunity Employer


City Planning

Education Requirements

Bachelor's Degree


Planner I - $48,522 to $77,635 per year; Planner II - $53,496 to $85,593 per year; Associate Planner - $58,979 to $94,366 per year .