PSRC VISION 2050
Updated Through September 4, 2019
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.
The GMVUAC led a team of King County Rural Area Unincorporated Area Councils and Associations 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 on PSRC’s draft VISION 2050 SEIS) were prepared on the PSRC’s VISION 2050 (https://www.psrc.org/vision) that 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
- 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.
The GMVUAC again is leading a team of King County Rural Area Unincorporated Area Councils and Associations in conducting an in-depth review of the PSRC’s VISION 2050 Draft Plan. Detailed Public Comments will be submitted to PSRC by its September 16, 2019, deadline. The Draft Plan represents an excellent description of what we want our region to achieve and how to achieve it by 2050. The Policies and Actions put forth are sound and reasonable, as is the Implementation Plan, but 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.