Legislative Committee
The Road (to Washington’s Future) Goes Ever On

Joe Tovar, FAICP 

APA Washington has supported and been deeply involved in all three phases of The Road Map to Washington’s Future, a multi-year, multi-party collaborative effort funded by the Legislature. The focus of all three phases has been to build consensus on legislation to improve and update the state’s growth policy framework of state laws, institutions, regional and local policies.

The first phase, from 2017 to 2019 (now referred to as Road Map I), was led by the William D. Ruckelshaus Center. Identified in the Road Map I Final Report were six systemic and transformational reforms to the state growth planning framework. The second phase, Updating Washington’s Growth Policy Framework (now referred to as Road Map II), was led by the University of Washington from June of 2020 to January of 2021. The Road Map II Final Report listed dozens of potential amendments to state planning laws to address reforms identified in the Road Map I Final Report. Although the parties involved in Road Map II did not reach consensus on which of the listed amendments to recommend for adoption, legislators did borrow some of the concepts and language in bills considered during the 2021 session. This included climate change, housing, equity, the plan update cycle, and tribal inclusion in regional planning.

The 2021 Legislature funded a continuation of this effort, now referred to as the Collaborative Roadmap Phase III. This phase began in September of 2021 and will continue through June of 2023. It is being led by the Washington State Department of Commerce with the support of several consulting firms with experience in land use and facilitation. The 2021 budget proviso directed the Department: “to convene a task force to make recommendations regarding needed reforms to the state's growth policy framework, including the growth management act, state environmental policy act, and other statutes related to growth, change, economic development, housing, social equity, and environmental conservation.” 

Commerce was directed to “build upon the findings, concepts, and recommendations in recent state-funded reports” including the Final Reports from Road Map I and Road Map II, as well as the Governor’s environmental justice task force report issued in 2020. The Task Force is to include all the parties involved in earlier Road Map phases, but the Legislature also said that “Special effort must be made to include in these discussions the lived experiences and perspectives of people and communities who have too often been excluded from public policy decision-making and unevenly impacted by those decisions.” The Task Force is to provide reports with recommendations to the Legislature prior to the 2022 and 2023 sessions.

I am serving as the APA Washington representative on the thirteen-member Roadmap III Task Force. The Task Force met three times in 2021 and has forwarded a report to the Legislature with recommendations to:

  • provide state funding of at least $10 million annually to support local government GMA planning;
  • reauthorize the state sales tax credit program to support city annexations;
  • modify permit data reporting requirements;
  • and consider a more robust role for the Department of Commerce such as technical assistance and the adoption by administrative rule of optional “safe harbor” model ordinances.

The Roadmap III Task Force Report and Recommendations will be posted on the Department of Commerce website early in 2022.

I have provided the Chapter’s perspective on these issues during the 2021 Task Force meetings. Guiding my remarks were the Chapter’s adopted legislative agenda and the input provided to me by members of the Chapter’s Legislative Committee during their regular meetings. I will continue to meet with the APA Legislative Committee during 2022 to solicit their review and input regarding further potential legislation for the Task Force to recommend for the 2023 Legislative Session.

If you would like to find out more about the work of the APA Legislative Committee, contact Chair Paula Reeves at [email protected]. If you would like to learn more about the Roadmap III process, contact me at [email protected].