Planner Spotlight

Kim Dietz, Senior Planner, City of Redmond

Current Position: Senior Planner and Historic Preservation Officer with the Strategic Initiatives Team

Total years in planning: 22 years

Hobbies: Singer/songwriter, fiber arts, hiking, writing, and whatever else my Gemini mind dreams up

Hometown: Thornhurst (Pocono Mountains), Pennsylvania

Favorite Places: Pacific Northwest without a doubt, New Zealand, Paris, Ireland, Wales

Why did you choose a career in planning? Planning found me. My background was in GIS and my role in Planning and Community Development included providing data/map support to fellow staff. I was offered an opportunity to support neighborhood-based planning at the time that I was also seeking options beyond the computer. Community engagement and place-based visioning initially drew my interest and led me to the broad and complex realm of urban planning.

Why did you decide to be a planner in Washington? For me, the question is why I remain a planner in Washington. I relocated here from the eastern U.S. in 1993. Like many, it is a love of place that I still feel today. GMA, countywide planning policies, PSRC’s planning, and local implementation offer us opportunities to learn and to consider and construct our shared future. Planning feels like an honor whereby my work represents the ideas and needs of the greater good.

What projects/initiatives are you currently working on? During the past five years, I have been leading the City’s development of its first citywide Cultural Resources Management Plan. The Plan includes policies and codes addressing archaeological and historic resources. While the City established its historic preservation program in 2000, the archaeological component came to the forefront in 2008, following a significant discovery of 12,000-year-old resources.

I became part of the Strategic Initiatives team in January 2019. While with the Long-Range Planning team (1997 – 2018) I had amended code several times for consistency and implementation of neighborhood policies. My new role involves administering a digital repository and coordinating with staff toward code improvements and other amendments. The Planning Commission is currently reviewing its second package of minor code amendments through a new, annual cleanup process.

What was your first planning-related job? During my undergraduate work, I would spend summers with my grandmother in Avon Park, Florida. I typically lined up two or three jobs to earn money for the next school year. One of those years, the City of Avon Park invited me to assist with an industrial lands survey. My walkabouts in 100-degree heat and my first lessons in open-pond wastewater treatment are strong in my memory and earned me a key to City.

What advice would you give a new planner? I’ve been reading about generalists versus specialists such as in the scientific realm. The generalist approach was recommended to my daughter as she started on her path toward marine biology. I think this, along with patience is a good lesson for all of us. Interning, shadowing, and apprenticing are all great tools to help you explore a career before deciding on a single-path. New trends, conditions, and thoughts emerge, allowing us to grow and diversify in ways we had not originally considered. My advice is to maintain a strong sense of inquiry because you might discover your very own passion in planning.

What do you wish you had known when you started your career? I obtained my graduate degree later in life. I would have preferred obtaining it earlier even though I have had a wealth of other opportunities throughout my planning career.

If you were not a planner what profession would you likely be in? Remember, I’m a Gemini so, here goes: author, fashion designer, railroad engineer (yes, really), movie director, or park ranger.

Do you have any favorite online sources related to planning that you’d like to share, and/or planners (historical or present) that have inspired your work? I believe in Rachel Carson, particularly her emphasis on keeping a childlike sense of awe as we engage with natural places. Similarly, I’m inspired by Kaplan & Kaplan and Dr. Frances Kuo of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

In preparation for more in-depth code work, I am currently favoring CNU, ULI, AARP’s Roadmap to Livability, any site that discusses child-oriented urban planning, smart growth, Planetizen, MRSC, APA, and all the coolest code repositories for which I’d love to hear others’ ideas.

Return to the July/August issue of the Washington Planner