Planning and zoning decisions are pivotal to the orderly development of Washington's cities and counties. But in these cash-strapped times, city and county officials have asked for a little consideration when it comes to updating comprehensive and shoreline protection plans.
It’s a reasonable request.
The state Senate Government Operations, Tribal Relations and Elections Committee settled on aPla compromise on House Bill 1478. The compromise would let cities and counties revise their plans once every eight years — up from seven years in current law but less than the once-a-decade cycle sought earlier by local governments.
Rep. Larry Springer, D-Kirkland, author of the legislation, is right when he says linking shoreline and comprehensive planning in the same year makes sense, too. The measure also would give local entities three more years – until 2018 – to meet state requirements for shifting vehicle fleets to alternative fuels.
Under the compromise, Thurston and five other counties that file “buildable lands” reports every five years would be required to file those plans every four years. But the more-frequent reports should be required only if funding for them is available; otherwise it’s another unfunded state mandate.
The idea behind this legislation is to help city and county officials by giving them a bit more time to file strategic planning documents. Planning, when done right with plenty of outreach and citizen participation, can be an expensive proposition.
The fact that House Bill 1478 drew a unanimous vote out of the Senate committee signals that a reasonable compromise on this key issue has been achieved.