Joe Tovar

Affiliate Associate Professor

Joe Tovar has been an Affiliate Associate Professor in the College of Built Environments since 2001where he has taught growth management and comprehensive planning at the graduate level. In 2020, he began working in the College’s Northwest Center for Livable Communities as the project manager for “Updating Washington’s Growth Policy Framework.”

Joe founded Tovar Planning in 2012 after a 35-year career in state and local government. He has served as the planning director for the cities of Kirkland, Covington, Shoreline, and Bainbridge Island and was a member of the Washington State Growth Management Hearings Board. Joe 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.

In 2015 he co-authored “The Evolution of Washington’s Growth Management Law,” a chapter in Planning the Pacific Northwest published by Planners Press. 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.

Joe is a former President of the Washington City Planning Directors 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).