Published on Jul 14, 2019

Ruckelshaus Center releases report of new GMA vision & planning framework

Contact: Carl Schroeder, Shannon McClelland

In 2017, the Washington State Legislature funded the William D. Ruckelshaus Center for a two-year project to create a “Road Map to Washington’s Future.” The purpose of the project was to travel the state and listen to organizations and people talk about their experiences with the positive and negative elements of the state’s growth management framework, and to “articulate a vision of Washington’ s desired future and identify additions, revisions, or clarifications to the state’s growth management and planning framework needed to reach that future.”

Reaching over 400 pages, the report (see Volume 1) is a dense document that covers a wide range of issues with a range of specificity on the suggested “actions” and “key reforms.”

At a high level, the report discusses “Transformational & Systemic Change” in the following areas:

  • Funding and revenue generation to address growth
  • Adaptive planning at a regional scale
  • Resilience to changing conditions and disasters (including climate and disaster preparedness)
  • Statewide water planning
  • Equity
  • Economic development

In addition to these “transformational” ideas, the report indicates there are twenty-five reforms of the existing planning structures, including some highlights of special interest to cities:

  • Adding climate resiliency, human health, and well-being planning goals to the Growth Management Act (GMA)
  • Annexation reforms
  • Addressing availability of housing
  • Transportation planning
  • Integrating education and special purpose districts into GMA planning

Unfortunately, on many of the key issues facing cities as we look to accommodate the continual growth of our state, the report lacks specificity. This appears to be a lost opportunity to generate traction to tackle these longstanding and tough issues through a more specific recommendation from a body with the credibility of the Ruckelshaus Center.

Much of the legislative interest in amendments to the GMA and related statutes has been held back in order to wait to see what this report had to say. Now that it has been released, we are expecting the various parties who care about these issues to begin to work to pick and choose the elements of the report that reflect their interests and advance their perspectives in the legislative process.

  • Advocacy
  • Land use & planning
  • Affordable housing
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