Mayor Nadine Woodward names Spokane’s new director of planning

After almost four years, the city of Spokane is finally ready to have a new director of planning.

Mayor Nadine Woodward announced Thursday that she has appointed Spencer Gardner as planning director, with the city council expected to vote on his confirmation on Jan. 24.

Gardner, who earned a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has spent the last 12 years in private industry working for planning and design firms.

“Spencer is a leader, mentor and innovator experienced in bringing diverse voices together around complex project, transportation and regional planning needs,” Woodward said in a statement. “I’m excited about the vision he will bring as we pursue housing and growth opportunities.”

Gardner most recently worked for Toole Design, whose website describes him as a data and mapping specialist who has developed community transportation plans.

Gardner would not be a complete newbie to city government, having volunteered to help develop the city’s sustainability action plan. He was also previously a board member of the non-profit Spokane Housing Ventures.

The city council has long urged the administration to increase staff in the planning department — which helps develop and interpret land-use policies — in large part to help address the city’s ongoing housing shortage.

Subject to council approval, Gardner is expected to begin in February.

The city’s last permanent director of planning, Lisa Key, left the city in March 2018.