2020-21 Governor's Smart Communities Award Winners
Governor’s Smart Communities Awards Program
GMA Laws and Rules
GMA Periodic Update
Growth Management Grants
Growth Management Topics
Guidebooks and Resources
Defense Community Compatibility
Regional Planners’ Forums
Short Course on Local Planning
Submitting Materials to the State for Review
The following 11 communities are the 2020-2021 GSCA winners, listed by category:
Smart Vision Award – for a Comprehensive Plan, Subarea Plan or Countywide Planning Policies
City of Airway Heights: City of Airway Heights Downtown Sub-Area Plan.
This plan aims to enhance the housing and mixed-use development in the downtown and along US Highway 2. The judges noted that the updated commercial zoning guide and development standards clearly show that this plan will benefit the rapidly growing community. Airway Heights is a small city transitioning into a large city and this plan smartly adds missing-middle housing, sets realistic expectations, and builds on existing plans, which is a model for other rapidly growing communities.
City of Kent: Rally the Valley – Kent Valley Manufacturing/Industrial Center Subarea Plan.
Rally the Valley seeks to address the effects of evolving technology, transformations in industry, outdated land use policies, and fiscal constraints on the Kent Valley through goals, policies, projects and programs that steer toward the Community’s Vision. The city’s vision is that, “the Kent Valley is recognized as a thriving, economically resilient industrial ecosystem, a center for productive business, and a healthy desirable place to work.”
Smart Projects Award – for Project implementing a Comprehensive Plan
North Bend: Downtown Form-Based Code.
The North Bend Downtown Commercial Zone project included a new Form-Based Code with the intention of helping redevelopment fit the character of the community and provide more housing options. The project will enhance the downtown area and secure its future as a social, cultural, and entertainment destination. A form-based code is an innovative land development regulation that fosters predictable built results and a high-quality public realm by using physical form, rather than separation of uses, as the organizing principle for the code.
Lake Stevens: Downtown Lake Stevens Subarea Plan.
This ongoing project, with support from elected officials, staff, consultants, and members of the community, identifies ‘fundamental concepts’ to create a dynamic and transformational downtown that honors the past and looks to the future. Through deliberate actions, the city started implementing the subarea plan in 2017 and state that it has been a “Labor of love” to revitalize the downtown into the civic hub and community gathering place residents and visitors enjoy today. The judges noted that the projects listed in the Downtown Lake Stevens Subarea Plan continue to receive priority through funding and local commitment, instead of depending on grants and this is one reason it received the 2020-2021 Governor’s Smart Projects Award.
Chelan Co and the Cities of Wenatchee, Chelan, Cashmere, Entiat, Leavenworth: Chelan County Hazardous Waste Facility & Solid Waste and Hazardous Waste Plans.
This project was coordinated with all the cities and the county, as well as the state departments of Ecology and Commerce. Businesses also participated in the development, including the waste haulers and recyclers. Judges noted that the reuse part of the plan was “really neat!” Chelan County has many beautiful streams, mountains and desert areas for abundant recreation and tourism. By safely diverting this material to safe disposal and reuse, we also educate people of the harm toxic waste can cause if dumped into the environment. Prevention is much less costly than cleaning up a brownfield site. After developing the Chelan County Comprehensive Solid Waste and Hazardous Waste Plan, other jurisdictions have requested to use this plan as a model in their communities.
Smart Partnership Award – for a Joint Public Project that Implements a Comprehensive Plan
City of Renton: Willowcrest Townhomes.
This project is recognized as innovative for its partnerships, financing, and design. In collaboration with Homestead Community Land Trust, Renton Housing Authority, and JP Morgan Chase Bank foundation, the City of Renton, created the first multifamily net-zero energy and permanently affordable homeownership development in King County, and implements the 2016 Sunset Area Transformation Plan. This submittal was also highlighted by the judges as a model for others looking to begin climate-focused projects and environmental justice work.
Smart Housing Strategies Award — for creative Plans, Policies, Programs and/or Actions
City of Lacey: Pre-Approved Accessory Dwelling Unit Plans.
The purpose of providing free pre-approved accessory dwelling unit (ADU) plans to Lacey residents is to make it faster and cheaper to build them. Developed by an architect, the free plans are available for anyone to use, including other jurisdictions seeking to streamline ADU development. Of note is the work the city completed with local lending institutions to share information and knowledge about the pre-approved designs to allow them time to determine how they can best provide financing for interested residents. This demonstrates opportunities for infill development in existing neighborhoods, and clearly carries out the goals and requirements of the GMA as well as local objectives. Adding ADUs to older neighborhoods provides for gentle densification, maintenance of neighborhood character, and access to commercial services nearby. Providing a variety of housing types near transit, schools, and services is a key goal in the city’s Housing Element. The added benefits of pre-approved plans are tangible savings to money and time. Permit review time decreased significantly since the focus is on site plan review. Building and energy code review is minimal because the plans have those requirements designed into them with a few selectable options. Design costs can be up to 10% of a project’s costs, which homeowners and builders can now either save or put into construction costs.
Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe: Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe Housing Solutions Study.
This study determined housing requirements for the Tribe’s elders, families, transitional households, and casino and resort workforce. The study conducted extensive outreach identifying housing preferences and priorities for the development of a multigenerational community respecting Tribal cultural sites and aesthetics while allowing for non-Tribal member residents. The judges noted the housing marketplace as an innovative idea for other jurisdictions. The Tribe invited three very different developers of cottage, modular, and cargo container housing to discuss their innovative products’ suitability, quality, and cost to meet community needs. Subsequently they created housing and site development concepts, cost, and potential funds for six of the Tribe’s properties using the results gathered from the focus groups, the working groups, the household survey, and the housing marketplace. This housing study is already providing a community benefit resulting in four strategic actions identified for immediate initiation by the Tribe and opening up opportunities for funding and resources.
*NEW* Smart Climate Change Strategies Award — for Plans, Policies, Programs and/or Actions Addressing Community Climate Impacts
City of Olympia: Olympia Transportation Master Plan.Olympia is growing, and the community needs to plan a transportation system that will keep everyone moving. The Transportation Master Plan bridges the goals and policies of their Comprehensive Plan and annual Capital Facilities Plan. This city’s Transportation Planning Team led this three-year process. The plan also explores the technological changes on the horizon that may alter how we get around, from delivery robots on sidewalks to autonomous vehicles. It examines our maintenance practices, which greatly affect people’s experience with the transportation system. It considers the connections between transportation and social equity and seeks ways for the system to enhance service to the most vulnerable. Because of this innovative approach, the judges’ awarded Olympia with the *NEW* Smart Climate Change Strategies Award.
Judges’ Merit Award
Puget Sound Regional Council: VISION 2050, A Plan for the Central Puget Sound Region.Adopted by the regional council’s General Assembly in October 2020, after a three-year long planning process, VISION 2050 includes multicounty planning policies, actions, and a regional growth strategy to guide how and where the region grows through 2050. VISION 2050 ambitiously guides the central Puget Sound region’s growth of more than 1.5 million people over the next 30 years with a vision and specific implementation actions to become a more prosperous, sustainable, and equitable region. The region’s cities, counties, Tribes, ports, agencies, businesses, and communities worked together to adopt VISION 2050 to prepare for this growth and serve as a guide for sustaining a healthy environment, thriving communities, and a strong economy.
City of Kirkland: Village at Totem Lake.The judges were extremely impressed with this project, noting that it is the “transformation of ‘70s era mall into transit-oriented mixed-use village,” and a substantial joint public-private partnership investment project. The project, consisting of 336,707 square feet of commercial space and 851 dwelling units, realizes the vision for the Totem Lake Urban Center from the Totem Lake Plan adopted in 2002. The Totem Lake project is an excellent example of the implementation of a long-range community plan.
2019 Governor's Smart Communities Award Winners Announced
Governor Jay Inslee has announced the winners of the 2019 Smart Communities Awards. Now in its 14th year, the program recognizes achievements by local leaders who promote smart growth planning and projects that contribute to thriving communities, a prosperous economy, and sustainable infrastructure in Washington. This year’s honorees include the first winners in a new category focuses on creative solutions to address affordable housing development.
“Creativity, collaboration and public engagement are key to ensuring that communities are successful in meeting future growth and prosperity goals,” said Gov. Inslee. “This year’s award-winning plans and projects exemplify some of the reasons why Washington is consistently ranked one of the best states in America.”
Commerce Director Dr. Lisa Brown said, “This year’s Smart Communities Award Winners recognize that effective growth planning cultivates strong communities by supporting good jobs, affordable housing, reliable infrastructure and innovation for a clean, health future. These are some of the key attributes that give Washington its unique sense of place and quality of life.”
Tukwila Village. “This is the definition of a successful Public Private Partnership!”-Judge’s comment. The Tukwila Village project 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 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.
Rapid Implementation of Bellingham’s Bicycle Master Plan. Bellingham’s rapid implementation of the 2014 Bicycle Master Plan has created more citywide bicycle connectivity than in any other city of a similar size in Washington. In the five years since adoption, the Bellingham Public Works has completed and funded over 111, or 52%, of the 215 individual prioritized bicycle infrastructure projects. Bellingham’s public engagement and annual report on mobility allow for a series of comprehensive actions and opportunistic efforts to partner with other agencies and jurisdictions, as well a private development, to maximize the amount of bicycle connectivity that is funded and constructed each year.
Strategic Economic Initiative (SEI). “This strategic process demonstrated innovative, thorough, and meaningful public participation. This was a smart use of household surveys for targeted community outreach!”-Judge’s comment. The SEI identified 6 Strategic Objectives including 43 specific action tasks, lead participants, schedules, and performance measures to achieve them. Because of the excellent community outreach during this strategic process, Blaine voters overwhelmingly approved a Transportation Benefit District, opened a new downtown Welcome Center, and adopted proposals to create supportable, effective, and holistic action oriented capital facilities programming.
Watershed Protection and Land Use Planning (WPLUP) “Their approach to stormwater planning is impressive!” – Judge’s comment. The WPLUP project represents a holistic approach to addressing multiple goals of the GMA: preserving and protecting water quality and habitat, encouraging citizen participation, facilitating economic development, promoting healthy lifestyles, and accommodating growth in urban areas. The WPLUP Project is an example of how a local jurisdiction can create a synergistic relationship between these often competing objectives in a proactive manner that furthers the implementation of the GMA, and an example of how a local jurisdiction can implement the Department of Commerce’s Building Cities in the Rain guidance.
Colville Downtown Vitalization Plan—Colville Together. The City of Colville and the Tri-County Economic Development District (TEDD), and the Main Street Partnership worked together to transform Downtown Colville. The strong design visions of the Plan was assisted by a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) from Commerce and a Complete Streets grant from the Transportation Improvement Board (TIB). As the heart of the planning effort, the partnerships are a benefit to the community and now the City has a downtown “public space activation program”, and a very successful hog dog vendor that can be found attracting tourist to the downtown nearly every weekend in the civic square. “Great example of a regional focus to improve the regional community, economic development, and create a central gathering space for all!”-Judge’s comment.
Transit Road Trip Project. The Road Trip project was a two-year program combining technical analysis and unprecedented public engagement to involve residents in transportation solutions. It was launched by the multi-jurisdictional Authority Board in response to anticipated budget shortfalls. The potential results include: realization of the goal of high-density corridor development and reduction of sprawl, improving access to employment centers, and increases the volume of people using transit. “The over 10,000 individual comments, and 66% of votes, validated their two-year public participation process. This was a smart strategy to gaining community support for raising taxes to support local growth management needs.” –Judge’s comment.
Housing Element-2018. The County studied housing conditions and reviewed existing policies with the goal of updating the Housing Element, developing a Reasonable Measures Addendum, and creating an Implementation Plan. The research and analysis guided the development of broad goals and policies empowering the County to consider creative solutions. Solutions were innovative out of necessity. Island County is characterized by very small UGAs and includes an entirely separate island with no UGAs. The results provided unprecedented public engagement from all areas of the County. The Housing Element brought together and unified very divergent opinions in the County and became a tool that engaged the community, empowered immediate action, and cultivated a greater understanding of the Growth Management Act (GMA).
Rural Lands Regulatory Updates. “Excellent example of how to actually protect resource lands!!”-Judge’s comment. The Island County rural lands regulatory updates were prepared by the County in response to overwhelming public input provided in the recent Comprehensive Plan (2016) update. Community responses called for regulations that found the balance between economic development, long-term commercial viability of resource lands, impacts to surrounding property owners, and rural character. The County made smart choices and did an excellent job of conducting a public process that addressed conflicting factors and tension points and provided a new regulatory structure that encourages economic development while protecting and retaining important resource lands.
Lakewood Downtown Plan. Over 2017 and 2018, Lakewood developed a Downtown Plan reflecting aspirations of multi-generations, ethnicities, residents, businesses, and property owners. The Plan envisions a well-designed mixed-use place to live, work, and shop. Downtown is enriched with parks, accessible and traversable by all travel modes, and offers a rich quality of life and strong economy. Lakewood’s robust public outreach and program were excellent for the community members, the decision-makers involved in the planning process.
City of Prosser Comprehensive Plan. The rewrite of the City’s Comprehensive Plan was a large undertaking, not only to satisfy the periodic update, but also to implement new approaches to old problems. Prosser has taken bold steps to addressing housing needs, new approaches to inclusionary housing, and innovative student engagement in the planning process. The GSCA judges recognized Prosser’s broad public visioning process as an outstanding model for other communities: “The visioning process, and resulting Plan, were exceptional at simplifying zoning, addressing housing issues head-on, eliminating 20-year deed restrictions, and creating incentivizing policies for housing.”
Affordable Housing Action Strategy. For many years, the City of Tacoma has worked to tackle its challenges relating to housing affordability, while also working to address a need for a more strategic and sustainable long-term approach to its housing investments. From March to September 2018, the City of Tacoma partnered with other agencies, organizations and community members to develop a comprehensive Affordable Housing Action Strategy (AHAS). The AHAS – an equitable response to Tacoma’s Caccelerating housing market, increased displacement pressure, and need for quality, affordable housing – was informed by available data, extensive community engagement, and input from a core stakeholder group of subject matter experts.
Vancouver Housing Strategy. “The Vancouver delivered on the goods in the form of a housing strategy toolkit for other communities to use! This is a great use of municipal money per capita.” –Judge’s comment. The Vancouver Housing Strategy addresses housing needs across a broad range of income levels through direct funding programs, development incentives, zoning code changes and renter protections. This strives to keep Vancouver a vibrant, livable place for all current and future residents by creating and preserving both affordable and market-rate housing; implements zoning initiatives to increase density and expand the range of available housing types; and leverages partnerships with the Vancouver Housing Authority, nonprofit housing providers and private developers to meet housing needs.
Blue Mountain Region Trails Plan. Developed within 16 months and finalized in February 2018, the Blue Mountain Region Trails Plan is the culmination of a collaborative effort, involving 30 city, county, regional, state, federal, and tribal entities. The Plan outlines a region-wide, non-motorized transportation and trails network that spans southeast Washington and northeast Oregon. The Plan stimulates economic development, encourages walking, biking, and hiking; provides more access to outdoor recreation; and increases the overall quality of life for the residents. This is a unique and unprecedented regional effort, where many regional partners joined forces to complete the development of a non-motorized plan, and recreation network. “Impressive effort! A shining star for growth management, mobility, and open space protection!”-Judge’s comment.