Principal Planner | Gig Harbor, WA

Employer: City of Gig Harbor
Job Type: Professional
Job Number: 21-00023
Division: Community Development - Planning
Salary: $87,865-$109,836
Location: Gig Harbor Civic Center, 3510 Grandview Street, Gig Harbor, WA 98335
Opening Date: 5/7/2021
Closing Date: Continuous until filled

Job Description: This position requires an adept leader who has a passion for coaching and collaboration. The incumbent will lead a team and manage work for the Planning Division within the Community Development Department and will occasionally fill the role of Community Development Director (during out-of-office absence). If this challenge seems right for you and you meet the job description qualifications, you are encouraged to apply for this exciting leadership opportunity with the City of Gig Harbor.

This is a management position responsible for oversight of the Planning Division within Community Development Department. The Principal Planner may serve as the acting Community Development Director during director’s out-of-office absences. The employee:

  • Is under the direct supervision of the Community Development Director.
  • Works as part of a team and with other departments to accomplish the work.
  • Adheres to Gig Harbor guidelines, policies, procedures, practices, as well as applicable local, state, and federal laws.
  • Is responsible for advanced and highly complex planning activities.
  • Leads and supervises the Planning Division within the Community Development Department.
  • Acts as a division supervisor, City Planning Officer, SEPA Responsible Official, Shoreline Master Program Administrator.
  • May assume the duties of the Department Director in their absence. 
  • Interacts and establishes relationships with the public, City officials, City employees, contractors, and other government agencies.

Work is performed with limited supervision. The employee has relative independence and latitude for exercising sound judgment, taking high-level initiative within the scope of oral and written instructions and established Community Development Department and City of Gig Harbor guidelines, policies, procedures, practices, as well as applicable local, state and federal laws. The incumbent must balance confidentiality and transparency The incumbent performs and collaborates with employees to complete complex tasks. This leader must be highly proficient at program administration, project management and implementation, and budget practices. The incumbent must also possess demonstrated skill in leadership, collaboration, communication, public relations, diplomacy, balancing confidentiality and transparency, organization, risk assessment, decision-making, problem-solving, follow-through, and ability to identify and execute improvement opportunities. Work is reviewed for quality, timeliness, and successful achievement of projects and duties in alignment with the job. Work is also reviewed for ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships and ability to work as a team member with City staff, elected officials, and the public.

Job Duties: 


Any of the following duties may be performed. These examples are representative and do not include all specific tasks an incumbent may be expected to perform:

  • This position assumes responsibility for Planning Division operations with the Community Development Department, and directly supervises all positions within Planning Division of the Community Development Department.
  • Serves as a member of the leadership team within the Community Development Department and other workgroups/committees as assigned.
  • Assists in developing division goals, objectives and measures of success consistent with the City’s mission and policies to serve the public.
  • Coordinates, develops, interprets, maintains, updates and implements the City’s Comprehensive Plan.
  • Coordinates, develops, interprets, maintains, updates and implements the City’s Land Development Regulations and any other land use regulations.
  • Provides oversight, leadership, management, and performs work for complex and sensitive planning projects including researching, planning, executing, completing, analyzing, and evaluating.
  • Supervises and leads employees using a coaching model that includes establishing expectations, assigning work, setting goals and objectives, planning for development/training, reviewing and evaluating performance, ensuring frequent and timely conversations, delivering feedback, conducting routine check-ins, helping employees identify resolutions for issues, providing on-the-job training, conducting sensitive conversations, handling matters with proper discretion, and successfully addressing employee performance issues.
  • May serve as acting Community Development Director in the director’s absence.
  • Develops, measures, analyzes, improves, evaluates, and reports operational plans.
  • Oversees and facilitates specialized planning functions such as large-scale new development proposals and environmental studies.
  • Provides information proactively to elected officials and educates the public on the role of planning within the City.
  • Researches, collects, analyzes, organizes, prepares and presents data and reports.
  • Recommends improvement and modifications.
  • Coordinates and participates in public engagement processes and visioning efforts.
  • Monitors and ensures compliance with local, state and federal laws.
  • Advises the Community Development Director on all planning related matters.
  • As appropriate, provides information and reports and/or advises the Mayor, City Administrator, City Council, managers, committees, various councils, boards, commissions, and public.
  • Serves as liaison and performs all necessary functions in support of Planning Commission.
  • Assists with Community Development budget development.
  • Monitors and controls budget expenditures throughout the year.
  • Attends various civic and business meetings on behalf of the City.
  • Attends night and weekend meetings and community events.
  • Performs other duties as assigned by the Community Development Director.


  • Knowledge of urban planning and development and local government policies and procedures.
  • Knowledge of specialization such as housing, zoning, historic preservation, environmental planning, and economic development.
  • Project management methodology.
  • Knowledge of research methods and statistical principles related to urban growth and development.
  • Knowledge and application of methods and techniques of effective technical report preparation and presentation.
  • Knowledge of pertinent federal, state and local laws, codes and regulations including recent changes.
  • Knowledge and application of principles and practices of leadership/supervision and previous experience using a coaching model.
  • Knowledge of budgeting procedures and techniques.
  • Knowledge of recent developments, current literature and sources of information related to municipal planning and administration.
  • Knowledge of local government procedures and practices.
  • Knowledge and application of citizen involvement techniques and processes.
  • Knowledge and application of computer hardware and software programs, which may include Microsoft Office, Internet applications, econometric or transportation modeling, database management, or GIS.
  • Skilled in innovative, detail-oriented, experienced in highly visible/controversial projects.
  • Skilled in managing multiple, high-priority assignments.
  • Skilled in developing professional working relationships at various levels and resolving or de-escalating complaints.
  • Skilled in strong analytical skills to interpret research data for reports and apply mathematic techniques in practical situations.
  • Skilled in reading comprehension to understand technical and legal materials and to apply them accordingly.
  • Skilled in use of project management techniques.
  • Ability to maintain regular and reliable attendance.
  • Ability to exercise interpersonal skills including tact, diplomacy, patience, respect, courtesy and discretion in work, including balancing confidential matters and transparency.
  • Ability to collaborate across division and department lines, as well as be a resource for the public.
  • Ability to be a decisive and consistent decision maker.
  • Ability to be an active listener.
  • Ability to effectively demonstrate professional level public speaking and presentation skills to present plans, programs, information, and recommendations to the Community Development Director, Mayor, City Administrator, City Council, staff, elected officials, special interest groups, and staff.
  • Ability to work on several projects or issues simultaneously.
  • Ability to provide effective leadership, including coaching, mentoring, supervision and staff management.
  • Ability to successfully lead teams through times of change and transition.
  • Ability to manage projects effectively and meet firm deadlines.
  • Ability to contribute to and allow employees to be involved in the City’s Wellness Program, and in achieving the WellCity award.
  • Ability to complete construction site visits, as well as facility and area tours.
  • Ability to wear protective clothing and equipment.
  • Ability to frequently operate standard office equipment, perform required data entry proficiently and utilize computer software and specialized programs.


The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by the incumbent to perform the essential functions of this job successfully. Reasonable accommodation may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.While performing the duties of this job, the incumbent is required to:

  • (CONTINUOUS) seeing, seeing color, talking, hearing and manual dexterity. 
  • (FREQUENT) sitting and/or standing for extended periods of time, walking, grasping, keyboarding and repetitive motion of hands and wrists.
  • (OCCASIONAL) kneeling, stooping, reaching, bending, crouching, twisting, and squatting.
  • Requires occasional lifting, pushing, pulling, and carrying objects weighing up to 10 pounds and up to 30 pounds infrequently. •Work is primarily performed indoors under office-type conditions and/or teleworking and is occasionally performed outdoors.
  • Incumbent may be exposed to occasional inclement weather and normal transportation and construction activity, such as high noise levels, moving vehicles and machines, dust and mud, and traversing of exposed and sometimes insecure walkways and platforms.
  • Work requires some exertion such as climbing, walking over rough surfaces and loose material, crouching, bending, stopping, and reaching, and lifting of light to moderately heavy items.
  • Work requires average physical agility and dexterity.
  • Adheres to Personal Protective Equipment requirements


  • Driving for this position would typically require less than 5 hours a workweek. If driving on city business, the incumbent must meet and follow all driving requirements.
  • Access to guaranteed, reliable transportation is required as needed.
  • Travel is required to visit other worksites within the City of Gig Harbor and attend trainings or conferences within the state.



  • Bachelor’s Degree in City and Regional Planning, Urban Planning, Community Planning, or closely related field from an accredited college or university; AND
  • Four (4) years of progressively responsible experience as a professional level planner to including experience with the principles of design, effective site planning and architectural design; AND
  • At least three years of supervisory level experience in a leadership capacity; OR
  • Eight (8) years of equivalent education and experience that would provide the applicant with the knowledge, skills and ability to perform the job.
  • Experience with Microsoft Office Suite: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Teams, SharePoint.


  • Master’s Degree in City and Regional Planning, Urban Planning, Community Planning, or closely related field from an accredited college or university.
  • Previous planning experience with a city, county or other municipality.
  • American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP)Certification


  • Must have valid Washington State Driver License or ability to obtain within 60 days of appointment with maintenance thereafter and a history of safe driving.

How to Apply: Submit your application to: The City of Gig Harbor currently has several employment opportunities. Please encourage your colleagues to check out employment opportunities with the City of Gig Harbor - we are a small city with a big heart for providing service to our community.

Supplemental Information: 

Criminal Conviction Standards:

The successful incumbent will or may have access to a secured/confidential facility or computer system. As a result, the City of Gig Harbor will be conducting an extensive criminal background check by law enforcement agencies, which may include fingerprinting. Please review the following list of disqualifying crimes and negative actions to determine if you meet our standard for this position: (Download PDF reader)