Governor’s “Smart Communities” Awards nominations now open

Annual awards recognize outstanding work in community planning and development

Olympia, WA —  The Washington State Department of Commerce today called for nominations for the 15th 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.

Award winners offer fascinating glimpses into the values and long-term priorities of each community through their plans for how they want to look and function 20 or even 50 years from now.  For one community, it may be an emphasis on supporting agriculture, another may prioritize their downtown redevelopment — all require shared vision, tough decisions and partnerships.

“Often we hear about the controversies and debates involved in community planning and growth management,” said Mark Barkley, Commerce Assistant Director, Local Government Division. “The Smart Communities Awards showcase collaboration and hard work by neighbors, farmers, business people and public officials as they envision and put plans into action to make their communities vibrant and sustainable for economic growth.”

Profile in partnership: 2019 award winner Tukwila Village

Aerial view of Tukwila Village community development

“This is the definition of a successful public-private partnership!”

— 2019 Smart Communities judge

The Tukwila Village project, last year’s winner of the Smart Partnership Award, is a new multicultural and multigenerational community and neighborhood center. The tangible benefits are already visible in the form of commercial spaces, high-density residential housing, shared parking, a new public library and a new public space for community events and gatherings. The pieces of the project fit together and smoothly transition from one use to another. The design requires an ongoing partnership, so the city of Tukwila and its partners took an innovative approach and agreed to jointly form the Tukwila Village Community Development Association (TVCDA). The mission of TVCDA is to improve the social welfare of the local community and residents of Tukwila Village by promoting arts, economic development, education, health, and community building.

Read about more past Smart Communities Award winners (scroll down to find 2019 stories menu on right).

The 2020-21 awards include two new categories recognizing equity strategies and climate change strategies. Nominations are being sought in the following six categories:

  1. Smart Vision Award for comprehensive plan, subarea plan or county-wide planning policies. Recognizing the successful achievement of a county, city, or town plan or policy for forming its local community vision. This can be accomplished through an amendment to the comprehensive plan, subarea plan or county-wide planning policies, including robust community engagement and outreach.
  2. Smart Project Award for projects implementing a comprehensive plan. Recognizing a successful governmental project implementing a local county, city, or town’s comprehensive plan. These may include, but are not limited to, adoption of 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-benefitting infrastructure projects and public-private partnerships.
  4. Smart Housing Strategies Award for creative housing 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, or policies with particular attention to affordability, equity and displacement.
  5. *NEW* 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 equity and the protection of vulnerable people, places and systems. For example, plans or policies that directly address mitigation of impacts to equity, including displacement or gentrification, and demonstrate how equity was achieved, such as reversing redlining, disproportionate exposure to toxins, poor air quality or extreme heat, urban renewal, gerrymandering and exclusionary zoning or other land-use policies.
  6. *NEW* 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, such as extreme temperature events, flooding or fire hazards. Different areas of the state will employ different tools and strategies. For example, prevention of wildfires in a region east of the cascades, or a fast-growing coastal city where flooding and storm effects are the most prominent threat.

Nominations for the 2020-21 Governor’s Smart Communities awards are open through July 27, 2021.  More information and nomination forms are found here.

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