Governor’s 2022 Smart Communities Awards nominations open now through May 20 (Update May 3, 2022)

Annual awards recognize outstanding work in community planning and development

Olympia, WA — The Washington State Department of Commerce today called for nominations for the 16th annual Governor’s Smart Communities Awards, a program that recognizes outstanding work by local governments and their partners on long-term community planning and development.

Nominees offer a view into the values and long-term priorities of their communities through their plans and actions shaping how they want to look and function 20 or even 50 years from now. For one community, it may be an emphasis on supporting cultural and natural attractions, another may prioritize downtown redevelopment, and all require a shared vision, tough decisions and partnerships.

“Too often we hear about the controversies and debates involved in land-use planning and growth management,” said Commerce director Lisa Brown. “The Smart Communities Awards showcase collaboration and hard work by diverse community members and leaders to envision and put plans into action that create and sustain the vibrant neighborhood and places that make Washington state such a great place to live, work and play.”

Success stories: In their own words (videos)

Last year, award winners accomplished a variety of goals in a diverse exposition of local planning, community engagement and project due diligence. Two of these communities won the 2020-21 “Smart Project” award.

Photo of Lake Stevens mayor and two other people in video thumbnail with play button

Starting in 2016, Lake Stevens implemented a long-term subarea plan, helping to guide a community vision to reality.
“We had the vision to build a town center, and fortunately for us, we already knew where the town center was going to be,” Former Mayor john Spencer said. “We had our consultant give us a basic plan, but the big question was what we should do now. I think the answer to that lies in a very simple phrase: Just get started.”

Watch a video about 2020-21 award-winner Lake Stevens

North Bend mayor and another person in video thumbnail with play button

North Bend chose to engage their community in a robust planning process geared towards developing a Form-Based Code focused on Downtown Commercial zoning. To prepare for anticipated growth, city officials assembled a variety of stakeholders to develop plans for how the town should evolve while maintaining its charm and sense of community.
“People engage with each other, they care about their community,” North Bend Mayor Rob McFarland said.
“It’s absolutely looking down the road,” he said of the project. “It’s looking for a way to accommodate the changes that we know are coming and to find a way to allow for a vast variety of uses and changes.”

Watch a video about 2020-21 award-winner North Bend

Profile in smart housing strategies: 2020-21 award winner Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe

Rendering of Jamestown SKlallam housing project Smart Communities Award winner

Rendering of a housing project from the Jonestown S’Klallam Tribe’s award-winning Housing Strategies plan.

The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe Housing Solutions Study, last year’s winner of the Smart Housing Strategies Award, conducted extensive community outreach to identify housing preferences and priorities for the development of a multi-generational community. The Tribe pulled together developers with different concepts, including cottage, modular, and cargo container housing to discuss product suitability, quality, and cost as a way to meet community needs. The judges noted that this housing marketplace was an innovative idea for other jurisdictions to consider. This housing study has already led to four strategic actions identified for immediate initiation by the Tribe, opening up opportunities to implement the adopted housing and site development concepts.

Learn more about these and all of the other 2020-21 award winners, and keep an eye on this Smart Communities playlist for more videos coming soon.

The 2022 awards added one new category to recognize successful places with a planning legacy award. Nominations are sought across these seven categories:

  1. Smart Vision Award for a comprehensive plan, subarea plan or countywide planning policies. Recognizing the successful achievement of a county, city, or town plan or policy for forming its local community vision, through an amendment to the comprehensive plan, subarea plan, or countywide planning policies, including robust community engagement and outreach.
  2. Smart Projects Award for project implementing a comprehensive plan. Recognizing the successful achievement of a governmental project with implementing a local county, city, or town’s comprehensive plan. These may include, but are not limited to, adoption of implementing development regulations, infrastructure projects, community facilities, community-driven art installations, design implements, or parks.
  3. Smart Partnership Award for a joint public project that implements a comprehensive plan. Successful applicants will demonstrate the joint implementation of a local county, city or town’s comprehensive plan. These may include, but are not limited to, regional open space network plans, government-to-government long-term planning strategies, region-benefiting infrastructure projects, public/private partnerships.
  4. Smart Housing Strategies Award for creative plans, policies, programs and/or actions. Successful applicants will demonstrate innovation and creative strategies to address housing affordability through plans, policies, programs, development regulations and/or actions. For example, subarea plans that increase housing capacity, new housing element, policies with particular attention towards affordability, equity and displacement.
  5. Smart Equity Strategies Award for plans, policies, programs and/or actions addressing impacts to community equity. Successful applicants will demonstrate the use of planning techniques to address impacts of equity and the protection of vulnerable people, places and systems. For example, plans or policies that directly address mitigation of impacts, such as displacement or gentrification by demonstrating how equity was achieved, such as the ending of negative effects and reversing redlining, unequitable exposure to toxins, poor air quality or extreme heat, urban renewal, gerrymandering & exclusionary zoning, or other inequitable land-use policies.
  1. Smart Climate Change Strategies Award for plans, policies, programs and/or actions addressing community climate impacts. Successful applicants will demonstrate innovation and creative strategies to address local-issues driven by a rapidly changing climate, i.e. a community with extreme temperature events, flooding, fire hazards. Recognizing that different areas of the state will employ different tools and strategies, i.e. the prevention of wildfires in a region east of the cascades, and a fast-growing coastal city where flooding and storm effects are the most prominent threat.
  1. *New* Planning Legacy Award for successful places Recognizing a place that is the result of implementing a plan over the last 25 or more years. This award recognizes the successful achievement of a county, city, town, or Tribe in implementing its long-term community vision, through plans, development regulations, or local actions and the significant planning efforts it takes to bring it into reality. We would ask applicants to find the original plan and demonstrate how the planning process established a vision and how that vision created a place of enduring value.

Smart Communities Award nominations are open through May 20, 2022.  Visit our webpage for more information and nomination forms.


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