September President's Message

By Paula Reeves, AICP CTP


Students are heading back to school across the state this month, and I am reminded of the opportunities planners have to work with schools, school districts, and our State Superintendent of Public Instruction. 

Our schools should be planned as safe and easy places to travel to, either by walking, bicycling, or through public transportation networks. School grounds should serve neighborhoods and communities by providing public meeting spaces, cultural resources, community gardening, and recreational facilities. This is increasingly important as adequate education funding is a primary focus in Washington State and student transportation is considered to be part of basic education. The State Superintendent’s Office reports that Washington state and local governments spent about $320 million in the last school year on student transportation, primarily bussing, and this figure is increasing each year, one indicator of the need for and importance of more school related planning. 

In this past 2014-2015 State legislative session, APA Washington actively opposed House Bill 1420 which would have authorized certain counties, required to or choosing to plan under the Growth Management Act, to permit schools outside of urban growth areas when certain criteria are met. We were successful in our opposition efforts and this bill was not passed. However, it has been retained and reintroduced so we will likely see it again next session. 

We are interested in your success stories. Please email me directly at [email protected] with your examples of planning coordination, collaboration, and shared decision making between your community and your schools to help inform APA’s Sustainable Schoolyard discussion. Find additional resources on School Siting and Safe Routes to Schools offered by the Washington State Department of Commerce and the Washington State Department of Transportation.

On a related note, APA Washington’s Vice President, Josh Peters, AICP, convened a member Task Force this month to define our Legislative Education, Advocacy Direction (LEAD) in preparation for the 2016 State Legislative Session. The Chapter is developing a legislative agenda and building a coalition around these important priorities like school related planning.  For more information about this work and how to participate, see Josh’s newsletter article.  

APA Washington plans to preview the new legislative agenda developed by the LEAD Task Force on November 13th, 2015 at the Growth Management Act 25th Anniversary Conference  to be held at the Tacoma Museum of Glass.  This partnership conference hosted by APA Washington, Futurewise, MRSC, Association of Washington Cities, Washington State’s Department of Commerce, and Washington State Transportation Commission is shaping up to be an exciting day with outstanding speakers, leaders in the planning field, taking a critical look at the past, present, and future of planning in our state.  Both CM and CLE credits will be offered for attendance and six lifetime of GMA achievement awards will be presented.  To learn more about the GMA 25th Anniversary Conference, see the newsletter article by Joe Tovar this month and don’t forget to register soon – space is limited

Thanks again for taking time to share your input and ideas in development of our new APA Washington Chapter Strategic Plan. It was presented to the Chapter Board this month, but we are still accepting comments so please let us know if you have any more feedback. 

Lastly, if you are interested in getting more involved in the Chapter, the Scholarship Committee is seeking a Co-Chair. Every year, this important committee awards two academic scholarships to students attending the accredited planning programs in our state. Contact Tirrell Black, AICP, Scholarship Committee Co-Chair, for additional information at [email protected]

As always, I invite you to drop me a line or call me to let me know of other news around the state at [email protected] or 360-701-1943. Or if you would like to write an article, contact the Communication Committee Co-chair, Kim Selby, AICP at [email protected].

All the Best – Paula Reeves

In the next newsletter issue, we will have updates on Community Planning Assistance Team activities, a look ahead to the 2016 Joint APA Washington-Oregon Conference in Portland, Chapter and Section election results, and more!

Return to September issue of The Washington Planner