Deputy County Counsel III - Land Use

  • Sonoma County, CA
  • Santa Rosa, California
  • Jun 06, 2019
Full Time Legal Services Planning and Development Real Estate Redevelopment
  • Salary: $120,614.67 - $146,620.19 Annually

Job Description

Position Information

Join a collegial team of attorneys and staff committed to public service and quality of life in beautiful Sonoma County!

Starting salary up to $65.57/hour ($11,404/month), plus a cash allowance of approximately $600/month

County Counsel's Land Use Practice Group seeks highly motivated, career-oriented attorneys with excellent research and writing skills, the ability to think strategically and creatively, and the desire to assume responsibility and work cooperatively on complex, fast-moving projects.

Benefits Count y of Sonoma Puts to Work for You

In addition to a generous starting salary, working at the County of Sonoma offers expansive opportunities for growth and development, the ability to be part of a challenging and rewarding work environment and the satisfaction of knowing you're working to better our communities.

You can looking forward to excellent benefits* including:
  • An annual Staff Development/Wellness Benefit allowance up to $1,500
  • Competitive vacation and sick leave accruals, 12 paid holidays, and an additional 8 floating holiday hours per year
  • County paid premium contribution to several health plan options
  • County contribution to a Health Reimbursement Arrangement to help fund post- retirement employee health insurance/benefits
  • A retirement plan fully integrated with Social Security
  • May be eligible for up to 8 weeks (320 hours) of Paid Parental Leave after 12 months of County employment
  • Eligibility for a salary increase after 1,040 hours (6 months when working full-time) for good work performance; eligibility for a salary increase for good performance every year thereafter, until reaching the top of the salary range
  • Flexible work schedule
When you join the County of Sonoma, you'll also have the freedom to explore the beauty of
our county; with its picturesque coastline, majestic redwoods, historic towns, fine dining, award winning wineries, and a wide variety of entertainment and cultural activities. Please visit for additional information about the community.

About the Position

The County Counsel's Office is organized into five practice groups: litigation, infrastructure, health & human services, land use, and recovery & resiliency (created following the 2017 fires). The present opening is in the Land Use Practice Group, which provides legal advice to the Board of Supervisors, Planning Department, and the various bodies it supports, including the Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Adjustments.

The Land Use Practice Group advise on general public law issues, including the application of local agency police power, general plan, zoning, and other land use regulations, including constitutional matters of due process, equal protection, takings, freedom of religion and speech, federal or state preemption, public trust, and vested rights. Counsel in this group also provide advice in specialized areas, including: the Coastal Act, the Subdivision Map Act, Land Conservation Act (Williamson Act), Surface Mining & Reclamation Act, Building & Housing regulations including the Health & Safety code, affordable housing regulations, Cannabis law, Telecommunications law, Timberland Productivity Act, hazard mitigation planning, and Permit Streamlining Act.

Counsel draft restrictions on property, and other real property documents, as needed. Counsel provide legal services and advice in all aspects of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and other certified regulatory programs, and other specialized areas of Environmental law such as: Endangered Species Acts, Fish & Game Code protected species, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Clean Water Act (401, 404, NPDES permits generally and storm water), lake and streambed alteration issues (Fish & Game Code Section 1602), historic preservation law, tribal cultural resources (AB 52 tribal consultation), environmental contamination/ brownfields, Code Enforcement, Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), SB 375 and California transportation planning law. The workload is expected to be a mix of advisory/transactional work and may include litigation in state or federal court as needed.

The ideal candidate will possess:
  • Experience in private development or public project review, CEQA compliance, cannabis law, telecommunications law, planning & zoning laws, the Coastal Act, California Building Code, housing law, Public Records Act, and/or constitutional and general public laws.
  • Experience in drafting and interpreting land use ordinances, plans, and policies.
  • Experience appearing before and/or advising administrative bodies.
  • Experience preparing and presenting civil cases before State and Federal courts.
  • Exceptional research and writing skills.
  • Proven ability to creatively solve problems.
  • Demonstrated initiative in learning new things.
  • The ability to work effectively in teams and independently.
  • A record of excellent academic achievement.
The Office of Count y Counsel
The Sonoma County Office of County Counsel is committed to providing the highest quality legal representation and advice, in a timely and responsive manner, to assist the County, its governing Board of Supervisors, and other clients. The Office works to promote the public interest, achieve programmatic and strategic goals, and protect financial resources. County Counsel is the primary provider of legal services to the Board of Supervisors, County departments, the Grand Jury, and over 25 special districts, including Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District, Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA), Sonoma County Employees' Retirement Association (SCERA), Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), and the Sonoma County Transportation Authority (SCTA). The Office provides legal staff to many County commissions, and its attorneys regularly provide counsel to the Board of Supervisors, Planning Commission, Civil Service Commission, and Board of ZoningAdjustments at public meetings and hearings. In addition to providing daily advice on issues such as contract compliance, employment conditions, public works, and land use planning, County Counsel attorneys regularly appear in court on behalf of County departments in such matters as juvenile dependency cases, code enforcement actions, bail recovery, and mental health competency hearings. County Counsel either directly handles or coordinates outside counsel in the defense of all claims filed against the County, and proactively works with departments to minimize risk and assist in policy development and implementation.

The Office of approximately 30 attorneys and 7 support staff places a high value on its collegial atmosphere and commitment to providing excellent legal services. It is structured into four practice groups: Health and Human Services; Infrastructure and Public Resources; Land Use; and Litigation. Each Group is supervised by a Chief Deputy County Counsel and overall office supervision functions through the Assistant County Counsel and County Counsel. All staff is relied upon to work independently, meet client needs, and exercise sound judgment.
*Salary is negotiable within the established range. Benefits described herein do not represent a contract and may be changed without notice. Additional information can found in the County of SonomaSalary Resolution .

The employment list established from this recruitment may be used to fill future full-time, part-time, or extra-help (temporary) positions as they occur during the active status of the list. The Civil Service title for this position is Deputy County Counsel III. County employees who wish to be considered for future positions should consider applying to this recruitment.

Minimum Qualifications

Experience: Any combination of training and experience which would provide the opportunity to acquire the knowledge and abilities listed. Normally, two years of legal experience practicing civil law as a licensed attorney, at least one year of which was with a public agency performing duties comparable to a Deputy County Counsel II; or comparable experience in private practice.
Professional License: Current active membership in the State Bar of California.
License: Possession of a valid driver's license at the appropriate level including special endorsements, as required by the State of California, may be required depending upon assignment to perform the essential job functions of the position.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Considerable knowledge of:written and oral communications, including language mechanics, syntax and English composition; the principles and application of civil law; legal research methods; the duties, powers, limitations and authorities of the Office of the County Counsel; trial and hearing procedures and rules of evidence; the organization, powers, and limitations of local governmental functions; the statutory and constitutional laws of the State of California.
Ability to:research, analyze and apply legal principles, facts, evidence and precedents to legal problems; prepare, present and conduct cases of law in court; present statements of law, fact and argument clearly and logically in written and oral form; develop and maintain effective relationships with other staff members, departmental representatives, county officials, members of advisory and policy-making bodies, the courts and the public; analyze and draft ordinances and regulations.

Selection Procedure & Some Helpful Tips When Applying

  • Your application information and your responses to the supplemental questions are evaluated and taken into consideration throughout the entire selection process.
  • You should list all employers and positions held within the last ten years in the work history section of your application. Be as thorough as possible when responding to the supplemental questions.
  • You may include history beyond ten years if related to the position for which you are applying. If you held multiple positions with one employer, list out each position separately.
  • Failure to follow these instructions may impact your competitiveness in this process or may result in disqualification.
Please visit Getting a Jobwith the County of Sonoma to review more detailed information about the application, examination, and department selection processes.

Responses to supplemental questionswill be scored using position-specific criteria. Please provide specific and detailed responses of a reasonable length to allow for thorough assessment of your qualifications. Responses which state "See Resume" or "See Application" may be considered insufficient and therefore may not be scored.

The selection procedure will consist of the following examination:

AnApplication & Supplemental Questionnaire Appraisal Examination(weight 100%) will be conducted to evaluate each applicant's application and supplemental questionnaire for satisfaction of minimum qualifications (pass/not pass); and for educational coursework, training, experience, knowledge, and abilities which relate to this position. Each applicant will be evaluated based on the following criteria:
  • Relevance of work history, related experience, and achieved level of education and/or training as described in the application and responses to the supplemental questions.

Candidates demonstrating possession of the minimum qualifications will be placed on an employment list in order of most qualified to least qualified based on the achieved score received in the Application & Supplemental Questionnaire Appraisal Examination. Scores may be adjusted based on such factors as number of candidates, anticipated vacancies, past practice, and natural breaks in the scores achieved by this group of candidates.


A background investigation is required prior to employment. Candidates referred to departments for a selection interview are typically required to sign authorization and release forms enabling such an investigation. Failure to sign prescribed forms will result in the candidate not being considered further for that vacancy. Reference information will not be made available to applicants.

Additional requirements, such as successful completion of a physical exam, drug screen, etc., may apply, depending on the duties and responsibilities of the position. If you receive a conditional job offer for the position, the requirements upon which the offer are contingent will be outlined in the conditional job letter. You may also review the Job Classification Screening Schedule to determine the requirements for this position.


Applications are accepted on-line at: . Paper applications may be submitted by person, fax (707-565-3770), email, or through the mail. All applications and appropriate supplemental information as outlined in the job bulletin must be RECEIVED by the time and date specified on the first page of this job announcement. Applications received after the recruitment closes will not be accepted.

The County of Sonoma prioritizes and is committed to continuously providing a workplace where equal employment opportunity is afforded to all people.Please view the County's Equal Employment Opportunity Policy for further information.

HR Analyst: DTS
HR Technician: AC