The City of Sammamish is required to periodically update its comprehensive plan by the State of Washington, in compliance with state growth management requirements. A comprehensive plan is the centerpiece of local planning and contains goals and policies for different aspects of city development. Elements include housing, transportation, environment & conservation, parks, and utilities. The plan sets the framework for zoning, the development of infrastructure, and provides the basis for changes to the City’s Municipal Code, which in turn inform the day-to-day decisions that incrementally shape our city. The most recent, and only, City of Sammamish Comprehensive Plan was adopted in 2003 (extensively amended in 2006). There have been regulatory and policy changes at the state, regional, and county levels since its adoption, and our comprehensive plan must be consistent with these changes. The process will also result in a plan with improved clarity, readability, and usefulness.
If you are interested in a particular topic, please see the attached working schedule to find out when comprehensive plan elements are scheduled to be discussed. Dates are subject to change, so please check back frequently!
Q: What is a comprehensive plan?
A: A comprehensive plan is a coordinated policy document that:
- Guides decisions on land use, transportation, housing, development, capital facilities, parks, economic development, and the environment.
- Sets level of service standards for certain facilities, such as roads, and how to pay for them.
- Provides the basis for zoning and development regulations to implement Plan policies.
In short, a comprehensive plan is a blueprint for the future character of the city.
Q: What is the Growth Management Act?
A: The Growth Management Act (GMA) is a state law that was adopted in 1990 to guide planning for growth and development in the state. It requires local governments in fast growing and densely populated counties, including King County and all cities in the County, to develop and adopt comprehensive plans. The GMA provides specific requirements and standards for the contents of comprehensive plans and process for preparing a plan update.
Q: What is required to be in a GMA comprehensive plan?
A: Mandatory elements in a city’s GMA comprehensive plan include land use, housing, transportation, capital facilities, utilities and shorelines. For each required topic, the GMA defines the required policy framework and anticipates that local governments will tailor policy guidance within this framework to meet the community’s vision and local circumstances.
City must accommodate over the next 20-year period. This target drives many of the plan’s policy decisions, such as how much land is designated for future residential or commercial uses. The growth target is established through a regional process and cannot be independently changed by the City. Under the GMA, every city must plan for its fair share of growth within its region.
The City may also include additional optional elements in the comprehensive plan. In addition to the mandatory elements, the City’s current Comprehensive Plan contains environmental conservation and parks, recreation and open space chapters. The City anticipates updating these chapters as part of the overall plan update. In addition, the City plans to add a new sustainability element, based on the City’s recent work on a sustainability strategy, and a new economic development element, based on the on-going work on an economic development strategy.
Q: What do we need to change?
A: The comprehensive plan update will need to address items required by the state or other agency, items in response to amendments that have been made to the GMA since the last version of the comprehensive plan was written, and lastly, items relating to changes in Sammamish, such as the Town Center Plan.
Q: What can we change if we want?
A: The City has the option to revise goals and policies, as well as write new elements (or chapters) that are not required by the GMA, but are beneficial to consider in long-term planning.
Q: Why is Sammamish updating its comprehensive plan now?
A: The City is undertaking this process now primarily because the GMA requires adoption of an updated plan by June 2015.
However, it is also an opportunity to take a look at where we are as a community and to consider where we want to be in the future. The update process can help us to decide where to invest our limited resources so that we choose those things that will bring us a high quality of life.
Q: Why should I get involved?
A: You should get involved if you want to provide input on the character of your community, where and how the City should invest future resources, you have specific hopes or concerns about specific community issues, and many other reasons. For many citizens, participating in this type of planning process is a way to become more deeply involved in the community and to gain a better understanding of the diverse range of perspectives and factors that must be considered in planning for the future.
Q: How is the update going to happen?
A: The Community Development Department has already taken the first major step, which was to hire a consultant who specializes in updating comprehensive plans, ensuring we achieve regulatory compliance. Our first steps with the consultant are to scope the project, as well as to build a public participation program. Later, we will work closely with the Planning Commission to rewrite and refine elements to make sure they address everything they need to and reflect the community’s vision. The plan must also be consistent with King County and Puget Sound Regional Council planning goals and policies. Lastly, the adoption process includes City Council review and approval, as well as approval from the Puget Sound Regional Council and the Washington State Department of Commerce.
Q: How can I get involved?
A: As the planning process gets underway, the City will post information to the Comprehensive Plan webpage. The webpage will provide information on where we are in the process, upcoming public events, a listserv sign-up for email notices, and background informational resources. You are invited to participate in public events and workshops and to attend Planning Commission meetings and submit comments. You are also invited to let the City know how you would like to be involved. What is the best way to engage you or your organization in the plan update process? What is the best way to keep you or your organization informed during the process?
Q: How do I go about proposing a change I would like to see?
A: First, consider whether the change you would like to propose is within the scope of this project. Changes that will be evaluated as part of the comprehensive plan update process include area-wide zoning and changes to development regulations. We also invite general input and ideas on policy direction, and we will hold regular public meetings.
Changes outside the scope of the comprehensive plan update process include proposed changes to discrete projects (e.g. the community center), questions regarding annexation, and specific changes to code language.
Q: Who is leading the process?
A: The City Council will provide policy guidance, and the Planning Commission will recommend a plan to the Council for final action based on citizen input
The city planner managing the process is Emily Arteche, Senior Planner with the City of Sammamish Community Development Department. Studio 3MW has been hired as the primary consultant to research and write. All City Departments will contribute to the rewrite effort, by providing data, technical assistance, and other forms of support.
Q: When will the update be complete?
A: As established by the GMA, the deadline for adoption of the updated Comprehensive Plan is June 30, 2015.
Glossary of Terms
Community Development Department
City department responsible for comprehensive planning and development review & regulation.
Policy document that informs development regulations and guides future city development. Per the Revised Code of Washington: “[C]omprehensive plan" … means a generalized coordinated land use policy statement of the governing body of a county or city that is adopted pursuant to [the Growth Management Act].
Countywide Planning Policies
The Countywide Planning Policies (CPPs) are a series of policies that address growth management issues in King County. The CPPs provide a countywide vision and serve as a framework for each jurisdiction to develop its own comprehensive plan, which must be consistent with the overall vision for the future of King County.
Department of Commerce
State government department that oversees Growth Management Services. The Department of Commerce provides support during the comprehensive plan rewrite process via short courses, checklists, and technical assistance. Growth Management Services also reviews comprehensive plans for compliance with the requirements of the GMA.
Chapter of the comprehensive plan that deals with one topic (e.g. housing, transportation): As defined by the Revised Code of Washington, "Element" means one of the various categories of subjects, each of which constitutes a component part of the comprehensive plan.
Growth Management Act
The Growth Management Act (GMA) is a state law that was adopted in 1990 to guide planning for growth and development in the state. It requires local governments in fast growing and densely populated counties, including King County and all cities in the County, to develop and adopt comprehensive plans. The GMA provides specific requirements and standards for the contents of comprehensive plans and process for preparing a plan update.
Growth Management Planning Council
The Growth Management Planning Council (GMPC) consists of elected officials from King County, Seattle, Bellevue, other cities and towns in King County, special purpose districts, and the Port of Seattle. The GMPC develops and adopts the Countywide Planning Policies, as required by the GMA.
The growth target identifies the number of new residents and jobs the City must accommodate over the next 20-year period. The growth target is assigned to the City by the Growth Management Planning Council after a participatory process, based on the overall population project for King County, as determined by the State Office of Financial Management.
The Planning Commission is the citizen commission responsible for making recommendations on planning policy and development regulations to the City Council. Planning Commission meetings are a key forum for receiving public input.
Puget Sound Regional Council
PSRC is the Metropolitan Planning Organization for King, Snohomish, Pierce, and Kitsap Counties. They help to ensure that planning issues are addressed at a regional scale, and allows policies to be coordinated and effective.
Comprehensive Plan Resources From Other Jurisdictions and Organizations
Short Course on Local Planning
In September of 2013, the cities of Sammamish and Snoqualmie co-hosted a Short Course on Local Planning. Short Courses cover an introduction to Washington's Growth Management Act, Open Public Meetings Act and the mechanics of local planning. Below are presentation materials from the September Short Course.
The Planning Commission has completed their work on the 2013 Docket, which contains changes to comprehensive plan policies related to Transportation Level of Service, and the proposed Density Calculation Pilot Program. Docketed items will next be considered by the City Council. A Council meeting is scheduled for November 5, 2013 to deliver the recommendation. The Council will next decide whether to proceed on the docket proposals. The first reading for proposals that get advanced is scheduled for November 18, 2013. Materials for City Council meetings may be found here: http://www.sammamish.us/citycouncil/Default.aspx#
The 2013 docket also includes a Transportation Level of Service docket proposal, which will be processed on the schedule described above. Details on this proposal can be found here: http://www.sammamish.us/departments/publicworks/TransportationLOS.aspx