Accepted: Lindsey Sehmel has been offered and accepted the position as Lincoln City's new planning and community development director.

UPDATE Posted at 11:45 a.m. on Dec. 4

Lincoln City Manager Ron Chandler announces that Lindsey Sehmel, of Gig Harbor, Washington, has accepted the city's Planning and Community Development Director position.

Sehmel begins her duties in Lincoln City on January 1, 2019.

According to a release from Chandler's office, Sehmel brings 11 years of planning and community development experience, which includes her current position with the City of Gig Harbor as that city's Senior Planner.

Sehmel holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Urban Studies, and will complete an Executive Master’s degree program in Public Administration from the University of Washington Evans School of Public Policy and Governance in the spring of 2019.

Sehmel and her husband Nathan Loynes, who is a professional residential framer, have two children; their son Niall just turned 4 and their 18-year-old daughter Rylee is attending Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington.

Sehmel replaces Richard Townsend, who has been the city’s current planning and development director since 1999. Townsend will leave office is February.

The pay range for the Lincoln City Planning and Development Director position is between $80,957 - $103,325.

Previous News Guard coverage

Lincoln City’s new planning and development director could take office in January, according to city officials.

The finalists for the position are Lindsey Sehmel from Gig Harbor, Washington; Kirby Snideman from Provo, Utah, and John Lavey from Bozeman, Montana.

“We have made a conditional job offer to one of the three candidates and are awaiting their acceptance of the position,” Lincoln City Human Resources Director Colleen Scanlon said. “Until they have accepted the position we are not at liberty to release their name.”

The finalists

Lindsey Sehmel is a senior planner with the City of Gig Harbor, Washington. Her background includes 11 years of municipal planning experience.

John Lavey is the program director with Community Builders, a nonprofit organization based in Bozeman, Montana, with 12 years planning experience.

James “Kirby” Snideman is the City of Orem, Utah’s city planner. He has 7 years of planning experience.

The Lincoln City Rotary Club got a chance to hear Sehmel, Snideman and Lavey outline their history and experience during a presentation on Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 28, at the Salishan Spa & Golf Resort. The public had the opportunity to hear from the three during a meet and greet at city hall that night.

The News Guard asked each of the three finalist one key question.

News Guard: You have had a chance to tour the city. What do you see from first blush that are the top planning issues you would face as the new planning and development director?

Lavey: Transportation, traffic management and affordable housing. But I won’t be able to solve those issues on my own. Traffic is a big issue. You have a population that balloons to 30,000 people in the summer, so immediately we have to see what we are doing from a traffic perspective. Are there ways to get people out of their cars, on their feet? That is difficult in a community that is seven or so miles linear. Transit and ride share is something you’d want to study. It is not an easy answer.

Same with housing, which is as much a wage issue as it is a housing issue. One of the things we have to look at is job placement programs and workforce training programs and certainly there are ways we can look from a code perspective and look from a building perspective at some of the challenges. Perhaps there are ways through those avenues.

News Guard: In the past few months there has been much community discussion about working through the land use process is citing an emergency homeless shelter. There was a push to leave the process and immediately allow the emergency temporary shelter to help save the lives of the homeless. Do you agree to sticking with the process?

Snideman: Sometimes when you can be flexible, it is better to be flexible then to go straight with the letter of the law, especially when we are talking about people’s lives. As a planning director, I think it is very important to work together, so I would not take a different position than what City Manager Ron Chandler has taken. I respect that Ron understands the city process and why the city has to follow that process. Someone who might be upset about that could easily sue the city if they didn’t follow the right process. There is a lot of liability with being too flexible.

News Guard: In your discussion with the Rotary, you explained how you have reached out to your community to help engage people to better understand the land use process. Is that engagement something you’d like to bring here, and how would you do that?

Sehmel: Yes, I think that educating people on both sides of the spectrum and the needs that are challenging, as well as the simple decisions, are really important. I would work on utilizing some of the new technology and new opportunities to reach out to the community because generally inviting people to meetings is difficult for folks to attend. They may have soccer practice with their children or a church event to go to, so utilizing technology in the realm of communication and getting honest and sincere feedback from folks that might not speak up at a public hearing, is really important.

The next step

Scanlon and Lincoln City Manager Ron Chandler interviewed the candidates and reviewed the public comments from the Wednesday meet and greet on Thursday, Nov. 28.

“We will base the selection on experience, fit with the community, vision, and engaging with the public,” Chandler said.

The pay range for the Lincoln City Planning and Development Director position is between $80,957 - $103,325.

The candidate chosen will replace Richard Townsend, who has been the city’s current planning and development director since 1999. Townsend will leave office is February.

Follow this developing story, online, and in the Wednesday print editions of The News Guard.


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