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Joe Tovar

Joe Tovar

Affiliate Instructor

JOE TOVAR is Principal at Tovar Planning, which he founded in 2012 after a 35-year career in state and local government. Prior to consulting, he served as the planning director for the cities of Kirkland, Covington and Shoreline and as a member of the Washington State Growth Management Hearings Board. He helped draft the Growth Management Act of 1990, interpreted it for twelve years as a member of the Growth Hearings Board, and implemented it as a planning director and consultant to cities, counties, and the private sector.
Joe has been an Affiliate Associate Professor in the College of Built Environments since 2001, where he has taught growth management and comprehensive planning at the graduate level. He co-authored “The Evolution of Washington’s Growth Management Law”, a chapter in Planning the Pacific Northwest published by Planners Press in 2015. He writes a “Planning Advisor” column for the Municipal Research and Services Center and teaches best planning practices to audiences of elected officials, planning commissioners, attorneys, and planning directors at symposia, conferences and the Planning Short Course coordinated by the Washington State Department of Commerce.
He also holds an appointment as adjunct faculty at Washington State University in Community and Economic Development. He is a project manager at the William D. Ruckelshaus Center, where he co-leads “A Road Map to Washington’s Future” a project funded by the Legislature. The project objectives are to articulate a desired future for the state of Washington and identify revisions to the framework of state laws, institutions and policies needed to move toward that future.
Joe is a former President of the Washington City Planning Directors Association and the Washington Chapter of the American Planning Association, and was the first chair of the UW Professionals Council advising and mentoring graduate planning students. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners and in 2009 received the American Planning Association’s Distinguished Contribution Award. He holds planning degrees and certificates from the Universities of California (1974), Washington (1979) and Colorado (1991).