Nominations open for 2023 Governor’s Smart Communities Awards

Annual awards program celebrates excellence in planning for future growth, livable communities

Olympia, WA — The Washington State Department of Commerce is seeking nominations for the 17th annual Governor’s Smart Communities Awards, a program that recognizes outstanding work by local governments and their partners on community planning and development.

For almost 20 years, this program has celebrated the accomplishments of local communities that make Washington state an extraordinary place to live, work and play.  With great examples of downtown redevelopments, regional coordination on transit and tribal community engagement, each award winner deserves to be recognized by our statewide community. Their local and regional projects provide scalable innovation and exciting models for what we can all do to strengthen and improve our communities.

“This awards program highlights how we can work together to create thriving, vibrant communities through innovative thinking and action,” Gov. Inslee said. “Planning for growth locally is one way we envision a better future for our entire state, and our Smart Communities Award winners continue to lead the way year after year.“

Commerce invites community leaders to nominate a project or program for one of the following 2023 Governor’s Smart Communities Awards:

  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 a project implementing a comprehensive plan.
    Recognizing the successful achievement of a governmental project that implements 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 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, 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 elements, policies with particular attention towards affordability, equity and displacement.
  1. 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 mitigate impacts, such as displacement or gentrification. Communities must demonstrate how equity was achieved, such as ending negative effects and reversing redlining. Examples of negative effects include:  unequitable exposure to toxins, poor air quality or extreme heat, urban renewal, gerrymandering and 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 or fire hazards. Recognizing that different areas of the state will employ different tools and strategies, such as 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. 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. 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.

Nominations are open through June 2, 2023. Visit the Commerce Smart Communities Awards webpage for more information and nomination forms.

Watch a video about the Governor’s Smart Communities Awards.

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