Kirkland mourns passing of long-time planning and building director Eric Shields

Shields, who started working for the city in 1977, died after a multi-year battle with cancer.

  • Thursday, December 6, 2018 2:02pm
  • News
Eric Shields. Photo courtesy of the city of Kirkland

Eric Shields. Photo courtesy of the city of Kirkland

Eric Shields, long-time city of Kirkland planning and building director and resident, died the morning of Nov. 23, after a multi-year battle with cancer, according to a city press release.

He is survived by his wife Deborah, daughters Caitlin and Emily, son-in-law Mads and two grandchildren. His work family at the city of Kirkland, and dozens of friends and colleagues who knew and worked with Shields over the years, were fortunate to be able to visit with him in the weeks before his passing, the release states.

According to the release, Shields received his master of urban planning degree from the University of Washington and bachelor of arts degree in geography from the University of Oregon. He began as an intern in Kirkland in 1977 and came on staff as a planner soon thereafter. After a three-year stint with the city of Des Moines, Shields returned to Kirkland in 1992 to become the planning director. The position of planning director was later expanded to be director of planning and building in 2015.

During the two and a half decades of his leadership as Kirkland’s planning director, the city doubled in population from 44,000 to 88,000, the city’s downtown grew into a walkable urban jewel on Lake Washington and Kirkland’s reputation grew as a model for smart, well-planned growth, according to the release. Shields was an exemplary leader of his staff, modeling and nurturing an organizational culture of excellence, respect, innovation and accomplishment.

“Eric’s legacy is that his vision made Kirkland the green, livable, walkable community that we all love,” city manager Kurt Triplett said in the release. “The city is incredibly grateful for Eric’s decades of dedication to this community, for his leadership as planning and building director and for the kind and compassionate approach he brought to his work and his colleagues.”

Shields was also a leader among his planning director peers in King County, known for his ability to communicate the value of planning and key planning concepts to citizens and elected officials and to communicate those ideals beyond the boundaries of the city of Kirkland, the release states. Shields is well remembered for his skill at writing and editing proposed planning policies until they were lean, clear and vividly conveyed the core meaning. He successfully applied these skills not only to Kirkland, but also to the work of the King County Inter-Jurisdictional Team, the Puget Sound Regional Council and the Washington State Planning Directors, according to the release.

“Eric Shields was one of the smartest and most effective planners I ever knew,” said long-time friend and colleague Joe Tovar in the release. “He was kind, compassionate, resilient and brave. Eric was a true servant leader. We are all blessed to have known him.”

Sheilds’ family has arranged for a celebration of life for him at 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 22, 2019 at the Kirkland Performance Center, 350 Kirkland Ave. The community is invited to attend. Refreshments will be served following the event. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be made to The Nature Conservancy or the Kirkland Firefighters Benevolent Association.

More in News

If passed, Senate Bill 6254 would limit the nicotine concentration of vape products, ban certain flavoring chemicals and require vape manufacturers, distributors and retailers to obtain licenses from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board. File photo
Lawmakers propose sweeping regulations for vaping industry

Bill supporters cite concerns over health issues and teen use.

After Lake Washington Education Support Professionals authorized a strike for a fair contract with competitive and equitable pay Jan. 7., the union and Lake Washington School District reached a tentative agreement Jan. 17. Photo courtesy of Lake Washington Education Support Professionals Facebook page
Lake Washington School District office professionals reach tentative agreement

The district and Lake Washington Education Support Professionals reached a tentative agreement Jan. 17.

Snohomish County man is first U.S. case of new coronavirus

A man in his 30s was hospitalized in Everett after contracting the virus during a trip to China.

A proposal by Senate Democrats would require concealed pistol license applicants in Washington state to complete a safety course. File photo
Democrats seek firearm training requirement for concealed carriers

Republican senator calls proposal ‘unconstitutional.’

Matt Marshall, leader of the Washington Three Percenters gun rights group, addresses a crowd rallying for Second Amendment rights Jan. 17 at the state Capitol in Olympia. Marshall condemned Republican leadership in the House of Representatives, which expelled Rep. Matt Shea from the Republican Caucus. Marshall announced his candidacy for the 2nd District seat held by House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox. Photo by Cameron Sheppard, WNPA News Service
Gun rights advocates rally at Capitol

Criticism levied at Matt Shea investigation, Republican leadership.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson (center) announced a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson in a press conference Jan. 2. Debbie Warfield of Everett (left) lost her son to a heroin overdose in 2012. Skagit County Commissioner Lisa Janicki (right) lost her son to an overdose of OxyContin in 2017. They are joined by Rep. Lauren Davis of Shoreline (second from right), founder of the Washington Recovery Alliance. (TVW screenshot)
AG Bob Ferguson talks lawsuits, gun control

Washington state Attorney General stopped by Sound Publishing’s Kirkland office.

Sen. Mona Das, D-Kent, the primary sponsor of SB 5323, speaking on the bill. (Photo courtesy of Hannah Sabio-Howell)
Proposed law adds a fee to plastic bags at checkout

Senate passes bill to ban single-use plastic bags, place 8-cent fee on reusable plastic bags.

Footage from the September incident was shown during a media conference in Seattle put on by the YMCA on Nov. 13. Staff photo/Ashley Hiruko
Kirkland manager on KTUB arrest: ‘The conclusion of the investigation is not the end of our work’

Following the incident, the city is looking to change protocol, enact new trainings and more.

Development has encroached on the East Lake Sammamish Trail (at right). Joe Livarchik/file photo
King County files lawsuit to finish East Lake Sammamish Trail

Homeowners have until September to remove buildings and other property from the right of way.

Most Read