Planner Spotlight: Matt Parsons

Current Position: Senior Planner with the City of Wenatchee’s Department of Community Development

Total Years in Planning: 7

Hobbies: Playing with my son, hiking, cycling, camping, reading, cooking, spending time with family

Hometown: Kenmore, WA

Favorite place to escape from the office?

In terms of a place outside north central Washington, I would say the Washington Coast, particularly the northern portion. Locally, there are too many wonderful “escapes” to name either in mountain/alpine environments or in shrub-steppe environments. Any number of columnar basalt-lined coulees to the east, balsamroot-laden foothills around Wenatchee, or rocky alpine ridges to the west could be my favorite.

Why did you choose a career in planning?

I realized it was a good fit to many of my interests as I had a desire to improve the world both environmentally and socially. In 2011, I was living near Spokane and looking at graduate programs at EWU and came across their Masters in Urban and Regional Planning program. It seemed like a great fit and as it turned out, it was!

What projects/initiatives are you currently working on?

This year I am working on:

  • Ongoing development code amendments including the monitoring and refinement of the major “housing code update” we completed in 2019
  • Processing an annexation
  • Shoreline Master Program periodic update
  • Overseeing an inventory of certain types of signs

What was your first planning-related job?

My first job after graduate school was as a “Temporary Planning Assistant” at the City of Spokane. I was helping develop a subarea plan for the West Plains area. During graduate school, I worked at the Institute for Public Policy and Economic Analysis at EWU as the community indicators intern. While this was not planning work in the traditional sense, it definitely provided me with a lot of knowledge and skills I still use today.

What advice would you give to a new planner?

Two things:

  • Don’t forget why you went into this profession. It seems like early career can be really disorienting for a lot of people. As you make your way gaining the necessary training and experience to have the job you hope to have, don’t forget why you started on this path in the first place.
  • Take charge of your professional development. To the extent that you can control the training opportunities that you are able to make use of, be strategic. The most valuable training opportunities for where you are at and want to go may not be the most apparent or best advertised.

If you could have any job for a day, what would it be?

Commercial seaplane pilot

Favorite planning-related book or resource?

In my work I find myself reviewing APA’s PAS Reports, Memos, and QuickNotes most often when I am researching a particular issue.