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King County planning policy affects city’s quality of life

The Federal Way City Council voted to write a letter in support of amendments to the King County Countywide Planning Policies (CPPs), a set of rules that will dictate growth and development throughout the county and the city.

Margaret Clark, senior planner for community and economic development, gave a presentation to the council on Feb. 19 on some of the major changes that will take place.

“The goals of the CPPs update are to ensure consistency with the multi-county planning policies contained within Vision 2040,” Clark said, referring to a document that the Puget Sound Regional Council has produced. The goal is to ensure consistency with the Growth Management Act, reflect current terminology, and establish the policy framework for the Vision 2040 regional growth strategy, Clark said.

Clark said Vision 2040 is a planning strategy to attempt to meet the forecasted population of five million people and three million jobs in the Puget Sound region by 2040.

“It’s a description of a preferred pattern of urbanization that has been designed to minimize environmental impacts, support economic prosperity, promote adequate and affordable housing, improve mobility and make efficient use of existing infrastructure,” Clark noted.

Some of the new policy “areas” being introduced with the CPPs include climate change, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, food access, healthy living opportunities, and environmental justice.

The climate change policy area would “promote energy efficiency, conservation methods and sustainable energy resources to support climate change reduction goals,” Clark said.

The city has already been at work at this, Clark noted, with the city’s extensive recycling efforts, the purchase of energy efficient vehicles, and applying climate and energy control measures at City Hall. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions would entail planning for land use patterns and transportation systems that minimize air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, that would include directing growth to Urban Centers and other mixed use/high density locations that support mass transit, encourage non-motorized modes of travel and reduce trip lengths.

“Federal Way examples are zoning for the city center core, which is high density zoning intended to promote dense living accommodations and (a) more pedestrian friendly environment,” Clark said. “We also recently adopted the Complete Streets code amendments, which would allow and accommodate all modes of travel if feasible.”

Food access would deal with “increas(ing) access to healthy food in communities throughout the Urban Growth Area, by encouraging the location of healthy food purveyors, such as grocery stores and farmers markets, and community food gardens in proximity to residential uses and transit facilities.”

According to Clark, the city has begun addressing this issue and are “preparing code amendments to implement (the) language.”

Healthy living access includes increasing the number of biking and pedestrian paths, a move the city has already been working on in recent years, Clark said, with the adoption of a Pedestrian and Bicycle Master plan last year. Environmental justice is perhaps the most ambiguous new policy, instructing cities to “identify and mitigate unavoidable impacts of public actions that disproportionately affect people of color and low-income populations.”

Another part of the CPPs update includes affordable housing access, Clark said, an area that Federal Way is in good shape in some respects. The new facet of this policy update will be that the county looks at affordable housing access on a county level, rather than a city-by-city level, Clark said.

 

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