2021 Awardee – Puget Sound Regional Council VISION 2050

Some 1.5 million new people are expected to move into King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap counties in the next 30 years. Thanks to VISION 2050, the result of a three-year planning process by the Puget Sound Regional Council’s (PSRC) General Assembly, the region is better prepared to handle its anticipated growth.

VISION 2050 incorporates multicounty planning policies and actions to create a growth strategy for the next 30 years. It was adopted in October 2020 and centers the needs of people, effective transit investments, and sustaining a healthy environment, thriving communities and strong economies. Expanding the focus to equity is also foundational in planning to provide opportunities for people who have been historically marginalized.

PSRC’s Executive Director Josh Brown recognized the importance of listening to input from residents to ensure the plan reflects the diverse voices of the region. PSRC involved cities, counties, Tribes, ports, agencies, businesses, and community members to shape the framework for growth.

“We can’t see the future, but the foundation of our regional planning is asking everyday people how they get around,” Brown said. “Observing their behavior making sure that the everyday decisions people make are built into the VISION 2050 plan.”

Preparing for growth is a balancing act of incorporating different visions, developing and expanding infrastructure, supporting affordable living and taking significant steps to reduce emissions and climate impact. Over the next 30 years, the urban footprint of the Puget Sound region will remain the same, and the influx of new residents and businesses will need to be accommodated within the existing physical landscape.

Twenty-five years ago, regional plans were developed around cars. Since then, multi-modal forms of transportation, including mass transit and foot power, have become higher priorities for both human and climate health. Historic transit investments are transforming the Puget Sound region with an additional 100 miles of light rail and more bus rapid transit corridors, ferries and non-motorized options to support the realistic needs of communities now and into the future.

Beyond transit, VISION 2050 focuses the region’s conservation efforts, encouraging responsible urban growth and creating affordable housing options for people of all income levels.

“One of the unique things about the Seattle region is that we’ve always been a welcoming community,” Brown said. “We welcome folks to the Pacific Northwest and then they become the foundation for the future. That’s something we need to build off of. I think people have that a shared value of conserving the great place we have and working to make it better for future generations.”

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