Planners' Update Newsletter - February 2023

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FEB. 17, 2023

Planners' Update Newsletter

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Critical Areas Ordinance contacts and updates

The Growth Management Act requires all cities and counties in Washington to review and, if needed, update their critical areas regulations as part of the Periodic Update. Many jurisdictions delay this important work until they have completed other updates, while others are not even aware that their statutory deadline has passed. We offer you some helpful tips to ensure a successful and timely update of your critical areas regulations.

Start Early: With grant funding available, we suggest conducting a best available science review (BAS) to ensure your policies and regulations include the science that will best protect your most critical environmental resources.

Contact your Regional Planner: Commerce has regional planners assigned to assist with all aspects of your periodic update. Your planner can connect you with critical areas subject experts and other helpful resources.

Follow the Checklist and Handbook: Commerce has a Critical Areas Checklist that can be used to help determine the scope of changes needed in your regulations. We have also updated our Critical Areas Handbook to include recent court cases, resources and information from our Critical Areas, Shorelines Monitoring and Adaptive Management online workshops. Links to the checklist, handbook and the online workshops can be found on our Critical Areas Webpage.

Watch the PSRC Webinar: The Puget Sound Regional Council produced a webinar series to help cities and counties prepare for the periodic update. Check out the presentation on Planning for Critical Areas.

Get Agency Assistance: Our state agency partners are keenly interested in reviewing your current regulations to provide early recommendations that will strengthen environmental protections. Here are contacts for each agency.

If your city or county has already completed the update to your comprehensive plan and development regulations, the GMA allows an extra year to complete the critical areas regulations update (RCW 36.70A.130 (7)(a)). During this time, you will be eligible to apply for state loans and grants.

Contact Scott Kuhta at Commerce with questions related to critical areas and the periodic update.

Housing updates

Housing survey - dashboards added

As you may have read in last month’s newsletter, Commerce, in partnership with the Puget Sound Regional Council, commissioned a survey on state priorities last December. The overwhelming results show housing to be the number one issue in our state and have helped set the tone for upcoming local governments working on their periodic updates. If you are interested in breaking down the information by county (where applicable), the following two informational dashboards are both interactive and highly useful to understanding the responses.

Dashboard – Housing need

Dashboard – Housing diversity

You can find more information and links to each of these dashboards on our Planning for Housing and Middle Housing webpages.

Upcoming webinars – housing guidance

As a reminder, Commerce will be hosting two more HB 1220 (2021) guidance webinars this spring to complement the Racially Disparate Impacts Webinar held last month:

  1. Establishing Housing Targets for Your Community – mid-March 2023
  2. Updating Your Housing Element with HB 1220 Requirements (Land Capacity and Making Adequate Provisions) – end of April 2023

Information on the final dates and times will be sent out as soon as it’s available. You can read more on these items and other critical guidance at our Updating GMA Housing Elements webpage. Contact Laura Hodgson to learn more.

New faces at Commerce

Mike Cahill headshot

Growth Management Services is happy to announce a new Defense Community Compatibility Account (DCCA) Program Manager has been selected. Mike Cahill joins us after serving 11 years in the U.S. Army where he focused on community engagement and development. With the recent legislative report available on the DCCA program, Mike will offer a critical level of support to communities focusing on civilian-military compatibility and DCCA eligible programs. A resident of Seattle, Mike enjoys hiking, skiing and exploring the city’s many coffee shops and breweries.

Ted Vanegas headshot

Just in time for periodic updates, Ted Vanegas joins us as a new Senior Planner supporting Snohomish and King Counties (and many of their associated jurisdictions). With a short visit to Clark County as a Land Use Review Manager, Ted draws much of his experience working in our sister state, Idaho. Before moving to Washington in 2021, Ted was in charge of the City of Boise’s historic preservation planning program. He has experience as a transportation planner working for both the Idaho Transportation Department and the regional transit authority. He currently lives in Clark County where he and his wife enjoy camping, hiking, hanging out at the coast, and visiting local wineries and breweries.

News from outside Commerce

DNR Mapping update

Department of Natural Resources Logo

The Washington Geological Survey (WGS) is part of the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

In January 2022, the science and research arm of WGS embarked on new project to map aggregate resources in Washington. Amy Rudko, aggregate mapper is leading the project. She is working with Tricia Sears, geologic planning liaison, for additional outreach and project coordination.

Planning for aggregate needs and use is required under Revised Code of Washington 36.70A.131 and Washington Administrative Code 365-190-070. The provisions require that counties and cities identify and designate aggregate resources of long-term commercial significance. The Growth Management Act requires that counties and cities base their land-use decisions related to mineral resources and Mineral Resource Lands on information provided by the DNR. To learn more about why we are mapping aggregate resources and what the project includes, check out our Fact Sheet.

Most recently WGS has been working on the Aggregate Resource Inventory of Kitsap County. They are nearing the end of the project and expect to publish the map, scientific report, and digital data in late March 2023. Keep your eyes open for that upcoming WGS publication! Their next aggregate resource mapping project will be with Skagit County starting in spring 2023.

DNR update: Geological Survey releases new maps

Upcoming events

NW Planners’ Forum

We have an end-of-winter opportunity in the NW region for participants interested in an in-person event. If you live in the area, NW region will be hosting their winter forum onsite with no computer required. Planners in the region can take a moment to say hi in person, with no camera required. Read more in the winter forum agenda. Event date and time:

Tuesday, February 21, 2022, 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

Event location: Burlington Public Library Rotary Community Meeting Room 820 E Washington Ave. Burlington, WA 98233

Spring forum dates will be updated soon, so keep an eye out for upcoming dates and times on our webpage. Remember, you can receive American Planning Association (AICP) credits for attending based on the topics covered. 

Learn more

The Short Course on Local Planning

Commerce's Short Course on Local Planning offers an overview of land use planning laws in Washington, an introduction to comprehensive planning and plan implementation under the Growth Management Act, and a review of roles in planning and mandatory training on the Open Public Meetings Act for local government officials. All courses are online, free and open to the public.

In addition to the list of online opportunities below, Commerce is partnering with Thurston County to deliver a regional hybrid Short Course on March 1st at 6:30 p.m. If you live in the area, you can attend the event at the Thurston County building located at:

3000 Pacific Ave SE Olympia, WA 98501 Atrium Board Room 110 Or you can attend remotely by registering online via the Zoom link. Upcoming zoom courses:

February 28, 2023 at 1 p.m. Zoom link

March 23, 2023 at 6 p.m. Zoom link

April 20, 2023 at 1 p.m. Zoom link

May 30, 2023 at 6 p.m. Zoom link

Ask about local presentations

Commerce also offers e-visits to local planning commissions or other meetings. Topics include, but are not limited to, comprehensive plan basics and roles in the planning process. Contact your regional planner to request a presentation.