Office of Jani Hitchen, Pierce County Council, District 6 announcement.
I know the County and several of my peers recently shared information on the comprehensive planning process currently underway. I want to use this newsletter to share HOW to share your thoughts and WHY you should consider engaging in this important planning process. No matter where you live in District 6, this is about planning for the future of our community. This includes how we grow, where we grow, and planning together for the future of Pierce County.
What is Comprehensive Planning and Why Should I Care?
The Comprehensive Plan provides a framework that guides the day-to-day decisions of County staff and elected officials related to land use, housing, transportation, facilities, climate change, and the environment. Washington state requires all jurisdictions to review is Comprehensive Plan every ten years and update them with current information. We are in that planning process right now, and earlier this month, Pierce County released the Draft Comprehensive Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement for public review and comment.
Washington state requires that we go through this extensive exercise once a decade because we need to think comprehensively about our future. We need to consider what we’ll need in the future, like housing, roads, water, services, the built environment, and how to grow responsibly with population changes in a way that makes sense. Extensive public participation is an obligation and foundational to the planning of our future.
As you may have gathered, your voice is truly important through the Comprehensive Planning process. This is your once-in-a-decade opportunity to chart the course of our County and help guide the impacts on your neighborhood. This process can change the type of zoning (what is allowed to be built or not built) where you live or work. It can change how the County and cities will invest in parks and roads and build infrastructure and utilities.
The County is calling it Planning Our Community. It is important that we do this work together, collaboratively, with maximum input from the public.
Locally What is Happening
Pierce County began this planning effort a while back because the large amount of information needed to make these important decisions is crucial. This data includes predicted population growth, looking at where industry and business are predicted to grow based on available land, and changes to state law around things like environmental policies. If you want to learn more or get involved, the County has put together an online open house and a landing page that can be accessed throughout this process. You can review the County’s Draft Comprehensive Plan here. For those who live in Parkland, Midland, or Spanaway, the LUAC (Land Use Advisory Committee) will provide their ideas about what should happen within those communities.
Because these areas are unincorporated in Pierce County, you will want to engage and reach out through the LUAC or attend some of the opportunities for commenting on the full Plan. County planning staff will be at the Feb. 7, 2024, meeting of this group to present the Plan and listen to community voices.
Other Ways to Engage:
Anderson or Ketron Islands: If you live on the islands, you can engage directly with the County Planning Department, and you can reach out through the Anderson Island Citizens Advisory Board (AICAB) as they work through reviewing the Anderson and Ketron Islands Community Plan. While there is not a complete overhaul of the community plan, this would be a good time to share any concerns or highlight areas that need attention.
City of Lakewood: Our district’s largest city is also Lakewood embarking on this important process. Like the County, they are creating pathways for neighbors who call Lakewood home the opportunity to learn about and provide comments. If you have specific questions, I highly recommend reaching out directly to the city. Here is a great resource they have put together to help you learn about how they are approaching this work. Lakewood Speaks is a landing page that has a timeline of all they have done and where they are going. I also noticed they have two community meetings set up, one on Jan. 23 at 5:30 p.m. and a second one on Feb. 28 at 5:30 p.m. Both are open to the public in person or over Zoom.
Town of Steilacoom: Our state’s oldest town, incorporated when Washington was still just a territory, is also engaged in this process. Even our small cities and towns need to plan for growth, as the population of the entire County is expected to grow. Steilacoom cannot accommodate thousands of new homes, but it can look at things like the environment, climate change, and utilities and add some additional homes and population. It can also look at how and where adding new homes is most appropriate. The town has put together a web page to learn about the ideas it is considering and how to comment or engage. Take a look at Steilacoom’s Comprehensive Plan page.
The City of DuPont: If you call DuPont home, they plan to kick off their full process in February, and you can check in on their work on their Comprehensive Planning landing page. An area of focus that has been on-going is the Old Fort Lake Subarea Plan, which was guided by the City Council early last year. I reached out to the staff, and they will get this up and running soon and are very excited to provide opportunities for people to engage. Whether by attending, calling or emailing, if you have ideas or concerns make them known.
As you can see, there is a variety of ways to engage in this process. One of the things that often happens is that someone who doesn’t live in your neighborhood doesn’t drive your roads and doesn’t have to drive across town to go to a park. They are the ones making decisions. Our Planning Commissions, county-city-town staff, LUAC members, and elected officials cannot know everything. They depend on input from all of you.
You know your neighborhoods. You know your roads. You know your parks. You know! So please check in with this process for your location. Spend a few minutes learning what is being discussed and then provide a comment. Share your thoughts with those doing the planning work. Your voices will be heard, and your input will be appreciated.
While I am always happy to listen and learn with any of my constituents, if you want to share your two cents or more, please reach out to Comp. Plan Update, and it will be added as part of the OFFICIAL RECORD, and the department will attempt to get questions answered.