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The “Road Map to Washington’s Future” goes through a web of growth planning statutes

At a House Environment Committee meeting this week, representatives from the William D. Ruckelshaus Center presented an update on the “Road Map to Washington’s Future” project that was created in the 2017-2019 biennium budget.

The Ruckelshaus Center, a joint effort of the University of Washington and Washington State University, was tasked with articulating “a vision of Washington’s desired future” and identifying “additions, revisions, or clarifications to the growth planning framework needed to reach that future.”

The center is meeting with stakeholders and elected officials in 26 Washington communities in pursuit of those goals. The legislature’s original idea (in 2015, before the center’s pre-assessment) was for this to be an exploration of the Growth Management Act; the scope quickly broadened and reflects the complex system of statutes that impacts growth planning in Washington state.

“It’s every statute that you touch, every RCW that you adopt and can amend that gives direction, gives resources, gives requirements to cities, counties, special districts, utility districts, ports, PUDs. All the units of local government, as well as state agencies,” Project Co-Lead Joe Tovar said.

The slide below shows a sampling of the statutes that Tovar said people want addressed because they’ve noticed gaps, conflicts, or ambiguity.

Image: William D. Ruckelshaus Center

The project is also holding workshops for regional and state organizations, interviewing individuals, and collecting additional input via an online questionnaire. A group of university students is designing an engagement portion of the project for people between 18 and 35 years old.

Image: William D. Ruckelshaus Center

Once they’ve finished gathering input, the next steps for the project are to analyze and code the wealth of information they’ve collected, conduct any necessary, additional interviews and meetings, and write a final report that’s due to the legislature by June 30, 2019.

As for what they’ve learned so far, the Project Co-Leads mentioned a few themes that have emerged. They’ve found people care and are energized about these issues, that there are issues concerning the relationships between cities and counties in both rural and urban areas, and that one size does not fit all locations across the state.

“When you think about growth management, some places really are managing growth,” Project Co-Lead Amanda Murphy said. “Other places are trying to manage to grow. They’re not actually managing growth at all … We’ve really recognized the uniqueness of the state; and that the geography, the history, the industries, the economic opportunities are really vast and diverse all across the state. Things that might work really well in Pacific County are going to look very different in Ferry County.”

Interested in contributing input to the “Road Map to Washington’s Future” project? The Project Co-Leads encouraged us to share their contact information:

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