A member of Structural Stupidists had a blast a few days ago.  (S)he had another bad interview with a major municipality.  This municipality is one of the largest cities in the U.S.  It is the city of San Jose, CA.

The man pictured above is Chu Chang, San Jose’s Chief Building Official.

The city of San Jose recently posted an ad for their Plan Review positions. It is posted below.  (S)he decided to apply and was invited to be interviewed.  (S)he had been interviewed 9 times before and never received an offer.  Honestly, (s)he did think the 10th time would be the charm.  Boy was (s)he wrong!


City of San José

About the Department

The City of San José, the Capital of Silicon Valley, is one of the nation’s best managed cities and one of the top ten cities in which to live, work, and do business. Moreover, San José is the center of cultural, government and economic activity for the region. The employees of the City of San José have embraced the following values: Integrity, Innovation, Excellence, Collaboration, Respect and Celebration.

The City’s Planning, Building and Code Enforcement Department is seeking an individual whose values align with the values of the City’s employees.

The Planning, Building and Code Enforcement Department’s mission is to facilitate the preservation and building of a safe, attractive, vibrant and sustainable San José through partnership with and exceptional service to our diverse communities and customers.

Job Title: Associate Engineer (Plan Check)

Job Start Date: Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Job Description:

Position and Duties

The Department is currently recruiting to fill an Associate Engineer (Plan Check) position in the Plan Review Services Division with duties including, but are not limited to:

– Advising professional engineers, architects and others concerning code requirements, engineering and planning problems arising in the preliminary design of buildings and structures.

– Examining plans, calculations and specifications for residential, multi-family, commercial and industrial buildings, including complex major structures for structural adequacy, zoning and general compliance with governing laws, codes, ordinances and regulations.

– Making independent engineering analyses on proposed buildings when required to justify the structural safety of design.

– Working closely with and giving information to professional engineers, architects, contractors and the general public regarding building code, zoning and general requirements concerning buildings and structures.

– Coordinating effectively with Development Service partners e.g. Planning, Fire Prevention, Public Works, Environmental Services for plan review consistency and streamlining permit process.

– Issuing permits after review of plans.

– Advising building inspectors on structural, fire and life-safety challenges arising in the field during the construction of a building project.

– Instructing inspectors and technicians in the review of simple building plans.

– Conducting safety assessments of older buildings and assisting in enforcing compliance with the City’s Disaster Response Plan.

– Performing observational review of critical structural elements of the projects under construction.

To view the full announcement for this exciting opportunity with the City of San José and to apply online, please visit the City of San José’s employment page at, under Open Competitive Recruitments

Job Requirements:

Minimum Qualifications

Education: A Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited college or university in Architectural, Civil Engineering, Structural Engineering, or a closely related field (e.g. Construction Management). *An EIT certificate is not acceptable as replacement for the required Bachelor’s degree.*

Experience: Associate Engineers working in the Building Division as plan reviewers must have four (4) years of progressively responsible experience in professional civil engineering work with at least two (2) years of experience in design and construction of buildings.

Licenses or Certificates:

-Registered as a Civil Engineer or Architect with the State of California (candidates are required to submit proof of registration when applying).

-Valid California driver’s license.

Employment Eligibility: Federal law requires all employees to provide verification of their eligibility to work in this country. Please be informed that the City of San José will not prepare or file a labor condition application with the Department of Labor.


There were some knowledge questions.  (S)he have no issue with those questions.  If you want to judge whether someone is fit to review plans, they should have a basic understanding of the California Building Code.

  1. Name the seismic vertical and horizontal irregularities and examples of each.
  1. Name the lateral systems and building materials you have designed with. (S)he has designed with quite a few systems.
  1. State what the omega factor is used for. (This is ironic because the plan reviewer from the city of San Jose did not know what it was.  (S)he knows this for a fact because (s)he received it in an email.)
  1. State the four requirements for podium construction according to the California Building Code. Those four requirements are the lower structure was 10 times stiffer than the upper structure, the period of the entire structure shall not be 10% bigger than that of the upper structure and the upper portion and lower portions shall be designed using their respective R & rho values.  (S)he was told by the panel (s)he was completely wrong!  If these people cannot read the code, we can only imagine how they read plans.

There was NO written multiple choice test where applicants would have to know the structural engineering code in its entirety.  If they had one, people would be least likely to deal with reviewers with no common sense.

Some questions they asked had no possible way of happening in the course of your career.

  1. (S)he was asked about a time about having lots of deadlines at the same time and what (s)he did about it. (S)he mentioned how (s)he would work with the owners to see which project they really needed.  If (s)he would not be able to get to a project within a deadline, then (s)he would notify his/her customer why this would happen.  In his/her personal experience, the city of San Jose has never done this.
  1. (S)he was asked what (s)he would do when a customer contacted him/her about the status of plans that were not reviewed by all disciplines. (S)he said (s)he would release them under the stated condition that other disciplines have not reviewed the plans yet. This would be beneficial because the engineer or architect may have additional information to resolve the plan review comments.   This city is so backwards they do not have electronic plan submittals so they could see for themselves.  By having someone answer the phone, the city of San Jose is unnecessarily wasting time.


If people are going to lie to applicant’s faces in an interview, then they should expect to answer questions about their lies.  (S)he know they are lies because no one in their right mind would work for the city of San Jose after hearing these questions in interviews.  So (s)he decided to ask them in front of everyone.  Keep in mind these people do not know what happens during their own interview process.  Here are the issues (s)he raised during my interview:

  1. (S)he asked them about how the second interview was set up. They told him/her it would be an in-person interview.  They told him/her they always did it.  When (s)he asked them about the time they turned it to a four-minute in-person phone interview, they all drew a blank look.  (S)he did mention that (s)he broadcasted it on the radio in LA and that the entire phone conversation was on a speakerphone in front of LA County Sheriff’s Deputies.  These people drew blank faces.  Apparently, these people have never heard that any mike in the form of a cell phone is a live mic.
  1. (S)he asked the panel how the position became available. These people could not answer the question.  If someone is part of that department, (s)he would expect them to know why they are advertising for help.  This means they have major personnel problems.  Someone asked him/her whether they fire someone before they are eligible to become part of a Union.  (S)he does not know if this is true, but (s)he would not be surprised.
  1. (S)he asked the panel if anyone at the City Planning Building & Code Enforcement Division ever took a $30K pay cut. They all claimed that never happened.  When (s)he mentioned that their boss mentioned it in my interview, they were clueless and claimed it wasn’t true.  So (s)he played back the audio and boy were they speechless.
  1. (S)he asked them whether they encountered their boss altering official approved plans to cause life safety issues during the course of their employment. They gave him/her blank stares.  This was an interview question given to him/her by their boss.
  1. (S)he asked them whether they valued integrity. They kept telling him/her they did.  The only problem with that is that one of their plan review engineers James Son was busted by the state of California for publishing exact questions from the California Structural Engineering Exam and selling them for hundreds of dollars a pop.  This is a pretty important exam because of the seismic safety laws we have in California.


  1. (S)he asked the interview panel about an NBC Bay Area featured the city of San Jose neglecting their duty in enforcing accessibility requirements. They drew complete blanks.  (S)he would have expected them to at least know something about it and/or come up with a reason.
  1. (S)he asked them whether everyone had to have a California Professional Engineering License and a Building Plans Examiner certification to work in this position. The panel told him/her yes. Even their own ad calls this a Requirement.  There is one major problem with this: they have at least two reviewers with no engineering license whatsoever on their staff.  These reviewers were so bad they do not know how to communicate.  His/her recent plan check experience with the city of San Jose demonstrates they hire reviewers with no engineering expertise on lateral systems like plywood shear walls, or had never even knew how to use an engineering scale (which 3rd graders understood in one minute), or even finding a collector on a plan with the words COLLECTOR all over the plans.  The city of San Jose has unlicensed reviewers in the names of Kia Goudarzi and Su Tran.


These people have no licenses according to the State Board for Professional Engineers.  You can confirm this for yourself by entering their last names in the state database.


This was especially important because a few engineers passed themselves off as professionals and were not even licensed.


  1. The panel told him/her they had no buddy system, so if a plan review engineer gets a building type they are not familiar with, you are expected to educate the plan review engineer instead of the city staff. This is meaningless when they have not even had a basic engineering course in the subject matter.  Recently, (s)he had a plan review engineer who have never even taken a wood design course at all.  Kia Goudarzi the plan review engineer could not understand simple concepts such as shear, moment, and deflection.   We believe the only reason the city hires these inexperienced people is so they can rack up the plan review fees that owners and clients pay.  This is a major ripoff!
  1. (S)he asked the panel if they ever sent incorrect code interpretations to customers. They denied it – until (s)he showed them copies of the emails and the notes from a recent meeting with them.  In one email, they had told him/her it was OK to place a collector through a fire wall.  When the plan reviewer Kia Goudarzi was asked in person the same exact question, guess what?  It was not allowed.  The interview panel looked like a deer in headlights.
  1. Our last and most favorite thing the interview panel stated to hm/her was that they never read the resumes of their applicants. In fact, they are so bad they never even check public records requests.  When someone says this, it means they have absolutely no idea what their job entails.  Imagine if these people were dating someone of the opposite sex.  If one of them showed up on the Megan’s Law registry, would they ignore it?

Obviously they turned him/her down.  We are not surprised by it because the city of San Jose is run by complete idiots.  Why interview someone 10 times for a position?  A few people think they are using this person as a qualified white person to claim they interviewed all the qualified people.  Interview panels should not be upset that (s)he knew the questions beforehand because (s)he was interviewed 10 times.  If you have to interview someone 10 times for a position and not give them the offer, you have a major problem.  The only reason we believe the city of San Jose does this is because someone or some people named Lisa Joiner, Chu Chang, John Chiang, and Marc Garcia may want their egos stroked.


We know of other issues they have.  For example, we have brought two California cities to having the cheapest insurance rates for homeowners.  You would think San Jose would want this because Mayor Sam Liccardo keeps campaigning he wants to lower the costs for business.  You would be dead wrong!  We were told by their interview panels composed of Chu Chang, Lisa Joiner, Marc Garcia, and John Chiang it didn’t matter!  We guess some of their staff maybe in the pocket of Big Insurance – we don’t know!  We wonder what San Jose Mayor Liccardo is doing to promote saving.  Based on our organization’s encounter with the Planning, Building, and Code Enforcement Department, absolutely nothing!


Insurance for homeowners is not the only major issue.   Having bad reviewers is stressful on every engineer and architect who submits plans.  If you are depending on the city of San Jose for advice, don’t do it because they will cause plenty of aggravation.  They are incompetent in the worst possible way.  Many people have seen the movie 50 First Dates and may recall the character known as 10-second Tom.  Well, folks, these reviewers are exactly like 10 Second Tom.

We had a recent bad review from the city of San Jose.  This plan reviewer Kia Goudarzi was so bad he lost the plan review response letter printed in color and on 30 lb paper, couldn’t read a table of contents for calculations, and had no common sense.


Most people would be pretty upset about their bad experience.  We decided to have fun and showed people how dumb the city of San Jose is.  We asked a grocery store clerk, a waiter, and a fry cook from In N Out to find the collectors on the plans.  This is pretty easy because the word “COLLECTOR” was on them.  They found it but the San Jose Plan Reviewer Kia Goudarzi could not.

We asked that aplicant’s 3rd-grade daughter whether a 10 foot beam would be ok if that beam could span 13 feet given the identical loading.  She got the question correct in 5 seconds while the San Jose plan reviewer Kia Goudarzi failed to get it right at all.  This should have been easy to the plan reviewer because this could have happened in any material:  steel, concrete, or CMU.  The San Jose Plan Checker failed miserably.

As for our ideas to help the city of San Jose, we decided to show those off too.  We made sure we mentioned they were not allowed compliments of the Chief Building Official and Ethnocentric Corruptor Chu Chang.  We made sure we mentioned where he got his degree:  University of Texas at Austin.


We have a message for San Jose’s Chief Building Official Chu Chang:

“CBO, you apparently have 99 problems in your division and you are a big one!  CBO, you do not get to tell applicants they do not belong in structural engineering.  CBO, that applicant has that California license for a reason!  You would not like it if that applicant performed illegal discrimination against Asians.  If that applicant wants to review building designs because he/she is qualified, you have no right to tell him/her to get out of the engineering profession because it makes you feel inferior.  If (s)he wants to do this because (s)he enjoys it, that is his/her business and not yours.  You do you!”


Recently, the City of San Jose posted the position again.  There are many reasons to post it again.  We think they either do not pay well, the candidates selected turned the job down, they are looking for inexperienced engineers who will not question what someone tells them (which we posted two of them), or they’re just wasting the candidate’s precious time. I would like to ask the Chief Building Official Chu Chang, the Ethnocentric Corruptor why he went to the San Jose Mercury News and kept stating they cannot find engineers to work for them.  We wonder if he is doing this for free publicity.  We personally think it is all of these things.  We also know Chu Chang or someone at the city of San Jose removed a member’s LinkedIn profile for discussing their interview experience.  Folks, we have written this so you don’t waste your time.  So spread the word today.


Author: structuralstupidists

We profile the bad recruiting practices of structural engineering.

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