Updated Through November 4, 2021

The Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) is the regional planning organization for the four-county central Puget Sound region of Washington state. PSRC is committed to creating a great future for the region through planning for regional transportation, land use and economic development, under authority embodied in state and federal laws. To read more about the PSRC, its mission and numerous programs, please click on the following link: Puget Sound Regional Council Website.

 VISION 2050 (Final Plan)

On October 30, 2020, the PSRC Board adopted VISION 2050, the region’s plan for growth. By 2050, the region’s population will reach 5.8 million people. The region’s cities, counties, tribes, ports, agencies, businesses, and communities have worked together to develop VISION 2050 to prepare for this growth and serve as a guide for sustaining a healthy environment, thriving communities and a strong economy. VISION 2050 is a plan for the long-term that can be adjusted as the region changes.

VISION 2050’s multicounty planning policies, actions, and regional growth strategy guide how and where the region grows through 2050. The plan informs updates to the Regional Transportation Plan and Regional Economic Strategy. VISION 2050 also sets the stage for updates to countywide planning policies and local comprehensive plans done by cities and counties.

VISION 2050 (Draft Plan)

The GMVUAC led a team of King County Rural Area Unincorporated Area Councils (UACs) and Associations (UAAs)—Enumclaw Plateau Community Association (EPCA), Green Valley/Lake Holm Association (GV/LHA), Hollywood Hill Association (HHA), and Upper Bear Creek Unincorporated Area Council (UBCUAC)—in conducting an in-depth review of the PSRC’s draft VISION 2050 Draft Plan. Detailed Public Comments (UACs/UAAs Joint Comment Letter–Draft Plan) were prepared on the PSRC’s VISION 2050 Draft Plan and were submitted on September 16, 2019.

The VISION 2050 Draft Plan represents an excellent description of what our region needs to achieve and how to do so by 2050. The Policies and Actions are sound and reasonable, as is the Implementation Plan. However, we share a concern PSRC lacks sufficient tools for followthrough. Our region’s two biggest concerns will continue to be to: (1) Effectively manage growth. Still a major problem and only will become more difficult, especially for those cities on the fringe of the Urban Growth Boundary, where growth is least needed and infrastructure is least able to service such growth and (2) Provide an efficient transportation system. Still a major problem that will become more difficult with insufficient tools available. Concurrency’s many existing flaws only can be fixed at the State level. The “local” focus of Concurrency renders it nigh useless on a “regional” scale, yet major transportation issues only can be addressed using a regional lens. Further, not requiring “Highways of Statewide Significance” to be Concurrency Tested leaves a gaping hole in any traffic analysis to meet Level of Service standards. Addressing these concerns and achieving Goals of the VISION 2050 Draft Plan, will take strong cooperation among all urban and rural stakeholders, as well as the State providing PSRC with more authority.

Earlier, the GMVUAC led a team of King County Rural Area UACs and UAAs in conducting an in-depth review of the PSRC’s draft VISION 2050 Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS). Detailed Public Comments (UACs/UAAs Joint Comment Letter–Draft SEIS) were prepared on the PSRC’s VISION 2050 Draft SEIS and were submitted on April 29, 2019. The SEIS looked at three regional growth alternatives:

  • “Stay the Course”A direct extension of the VISION 2040 Regional Growth Strategy and assumes a compact growth pattern, focused in the largest and most transit-connected cities in the region with designated regional growth centers.
  • “Transit Focused Growth”Considers a compact growth pattern based on the VISION 2040 Regional Growth Strategy that assumes accelerated growth near the region’s existing and planned transit investments in Metropolitan, Core, and High-Capacity Transit (HCT) Communities, with less growth in the outlying areas.
  • “Reset Urban Growth” Based on VISION 2040 and shares similarities with actual growth patterns that occurred from 2000 to 2016 and assumes a more distributed growth pattern throughout the urban area, but with more growth in outlying areas.

We support PSRC’s proposed new categorization system called: “regional geographies” to classify cities and unincorporated areas by roles and types, as this hierarchy better defines and more carefully recognizes the differences among such varied “geographies” and, thus, will allow a better allocation of resources to fill infrastructure needs:

  • Metropolitan Cities
  • Core Cities
  • HCT (High-Capacity Transit) Communities
  • Cities & Towns
  • Urban Unincorporated Areas
  • Rural
  • Resource Lands
  • Major Military Installations

Public policy can provide direction and incentives for communities to grow in ways that will invite personal lifestyle decisions that are consistent with the region’s goals. We also firmly support policies that strive to keep the Rural Area rural. Ways to ensure same included recognizing Urban Growth Boundaries are intended to be permanent, not fungible, and that Rural Areas provide benefits in many ways for everyone, including the residents of Urban Areas.

The only alternative detailed in the subject SEIS that supports both our strong objectives to keep the Rural Area rural and the State Growth Management Act’s (GMA’s) broad goals–Managing urban growth; Protecting agricultural, forestry, and environmentally sensitive areas; Reducing sprawl; and Encouraging efficient multimodal transportation systems–is the “Transit Focused Growth” alternative. The advantages of the “Transit Focused Growth” alternative are abundantly clear from PSRC’s analyses, with which we agree. The other two alternatives—“Stay the Course” and “Reset Urban Growth” would set our region back in many areas and should not be pursued.

Our joint Comments note key concerns to be addressed at a variety of governmental levels—State, Region, and County. Of these, the issue we consider critical is Transportation Concurrency. There remain deficiencies in Stat law (e.g.,  RCWs), in implementation at the County and City level, and in the total lack of any enforcement mechanisms. These render Concurrency, though great in theory, moot in practice and not what it was intended to accomplish—infrastructure keeping up with growth. Concern exists that PSRC might not sufficient tools available to followthrough. As we embark on the next three decades, we foresee our region’s two biggest concerns as: (1) Smartly managing growth and (2) Making our transportation system work to move people and freight. Addressing these concerns and achieving the Plan’s goals will take strong cooperation.