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Strengthening protection of open space, integrating County Strategic Plan: Council adopts update of County land use policies


Metropolitan King County
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Strengthening protection of open space, integrating County Strategic Plan: Council adopts update of County land use policies


Council approves 2012 amendments to policies that manage growth in the unincorporated areas


The Metropolitan King County Council today unanimously renewed the County’s commitment to maintaining open space and farmland and acknowledged the mutual benefits of strengthening ties between rural and urban King County in their adopted updates to the King County Comprehensive Plan (KCCP), the blueprint for growth in the County’s unincorporated communities.

“King County’s commitment to promoting quality urban and rural living while protecting natural resources is affirmed and strengthened through this update of King County’s Comprehensive Plan,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips, chair of the Council’s Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee and chair of the Council’s Comprehensive Plan Leadership Team. “This plan update maintains the protections allowing this region to grow without losing its natural beauty or livability, and addresses our changing needs related to climate change, sustainability, and economic development.”

Phillips was joined on the Comprehensive Plan Leadership Team, the panel of urban, rural, and suburban Councilmembers who help draft the adopted KCCP updates, by Council Chair Larry Gossett, Council Vice Chair Jane Hague and Councilmember Kathy Lambert.
“The 2012 updates to the Comprehensive Plan are a reminder the communities that make up King County—urban, suburban and rural—are interconnected,” said Gossett. “The updates recognize that all of these communities benefit from plans that accommodate growth, maintain infrastructure and support businesses throughout the County.”

“Every four years we work hard to come to an agreement on a comprehensive plan that balances economic development with urban and rural priorities and environmental protection—this final proposal, for the most part, achieves the balance we seek,” said Hague.

The King County Comprehensive Plan guides growth and development in the unincorporated areas of the county and sets policy on such major issues as annexations, transportation, and the environment. The State Growth Management Act, passed in 1990, directs the state’s most populous and fastest growing counties to prepare comprehensive land use plans that anticipate growth for a 20-year horizon.

Council adoption of the 2012 updates completes a review process that began when the Council received the County Executive’s proposed updates in March. Throughout the spring and summer, the Council’s Transportation, Economy and Environment Committee held 15 public meetings on the proposed changes to the KCCP, including three meetings in suburban and rural King County, and heard from more than 150 residents. In hearings on September 12 and September 19, the 2012 Comprehensive Plan Review Committee took up the Chair’s striking amendment, which modified the Executive’s proposal, which the Committee sent to the full Council.

“King County places a high priority on responsible growth and our commitment to protecting and preserving the environment,” Councilmember Julia Patterson said. “I believe the Council's approved Comprehensive Plan is consistent with these priorities and reflects the views of King County residents.”

“As the only member of the County Council that lives in unincorporated King County I take this process very seriously,” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn. “The process this year was open and transparent. I would like to thank everyone for their hard work - especially those members of the public that took the time to testify before the County Council on these important issues.”

“The Comprehensive Plan is one of the County’s most important policies. Today’s vote marks the end of more than a year of policy discussion and debate,” said Councilmember Joe McDermott. “In the compromises and hard decisions, I hope we found the proper balance between protecting our rural lands while also encouraging economic opportunity.”

The adopted 2012 updates to the KCCP include:

King County Strategic Plan: Recognition of the interrelationship of the King County Strategic Plan—the organizing framework for the County’s operations and measurement of its performance—to the KCCP and creation of a new Guiding Principle to promote that linkage.
Healthy Communities: Greater emphasis on the benefits healthy communities can bring to the residents of urban, suburban, rural and unincorporated King County.
Rural Area Economy: Retention of policies that support a robust resource-based economy in the rural area.
Rural schools: New policies and development regulations to implement the School Siting Task force recommendations.
Road and Transit Functional Plans: Better alignment between the KCCP and the functional plans for roads and transit, which have been adopted since 2008.
Annexations: Reinvigorating the role of annexations has in achieving and ensuring the efficient provision of urban services.
Affordable Housing: Significant revisions to affordable housing policies to bring greater clarity and emphasis on the role the county and the cities have in providing access to housing for all the county's residents.
Critical animal/plant species/habitats: Better defined policies and text regarding designating species and habitat of local importance.
Climate change: Inclusion of text and revised policies to acknowledge the role of the Strategic Climate Action Plan has to the climate change policies in the KCCP.
SMP: Inclusion of changes to the King County Shoreline Master Program ("SMP") required by the state Department of Ecology to obtain its approval of the county's SMP.
King County Open Space Plan: Revisions to better align the KCCP with the 2010 County Open Space Plan.

King County’s first Comprehensive Plan was adopted in 1994. Technical changes to the plan can be made once a year, with major plan updates conducted every four years. Major updates of the Comprehensive Plan have occurred in 2000, 2004 and 2008.

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