Legislation aimed at simplifying the rules for building in Pierce County is making its way through the County Council. The council in 2008 requested a review of measures the county could take to kick-start the area’s economy. The resulting economic-development report suggested a rigorous review of Pierce County’s development regulations to remove inconsistencies and duplication, Councilmember Shawn Bunney (District 1) said.
“Every regulation in Pierce County needs to be reviewed to determine if it is efficient, practical, effective and predictable,” said Bunney, prime sponsor of the ordinance (2009-98). “If a regulation does not meet these criteria, we should get rid of it.”
Originally adopted in 1995, the county’s development regulations grew from about 370 pages in 1999 to more than 1,500 pages in 2009. The increase is due mainly to expanded state and federal environmental rules, the addition of the county’s 11 community plans, and case-specific regulations and those from the bi-annual amendments to the county’s 1994 comprehensive land-use plan.
As a result, Title 18 of the Pierce County Code contains several areas of overlap. The code streamlining effort will repeal or consolidate sections concerning mainly native vegetation, landscaping, impervious surfaces, water quality and stormwater design and construction that exist elsewhere in the code. Other proposed changes will align the rules with applicable decisions by the state’s appellate courts.
The last major effort to reform the county building code was in 1997.
Councilmembers will again hear the proposal at the next Community Development Committee meeting March 1 at 1:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers, 930 Tacoma Ave. S., Room 1045 (10th floor of the County-City Building) in Tacoma.