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Community Renewal Law

This page provides an overview of the Community Renewal Law in Washington State, which allows municipalities to undertake economic renewal projects in blighted areas, as well as local examples.


One of the tools for economic revitalization is Washington's Community Renewal law, which empowers municipalities to undertake economic renewal projects in blighted areas. The legislature modernized the state's 1950's era urban renewal legislation in 2002. Requirements include designating a Community Renewal Area (CRA) and adopting a Community Renewal Plan.

This page provides information on the use of the Community Renewal law through council agenda reports and other documents from cities that have considered using, or have exercised, the powers of the community renewal law. The dates noted on each section indicate the time period of the community renewal related documents. In the case of toxic cleanup, the process is ongoing.

Background Reading


Local Government Implementation

Anacortes Cleanup and Reuse of Custom Plywood Site - 2002

The city developed a phased plan to clean up the contaminated custom plywood site but was unsuccessful. A University of Washington report prepared for the Washington State Department of Ecology states that "Lack of adequate funding, private and/or public, and strained relations between stakeholders are perceived as key obstacles in the clean-up of the site." For history, see 5.5 Custom Plywood in Linking Toxics Cleanup And Redevelopment Across The States: Lessons For Washington State, prepared for the Department of Ecology Toxics Cleanup Program by the University of Washington, pp 233-244, 2009

  • Anacortes Resolution No. 1609 - Findings and designation of community renewal agency to rehabilitate and redevelop the former Custom Plywood Mill site, passed 06/2002 - The site was contaminated by the existence of hazardous soils, substances or materials.
  • Anacortes Municipal Code Ch. 2.88 - Public Development Authority - Authority created to act as a community renewal agency under the Community Renewal Act

Bremerton Downtown Waterfront Urban Renewal 1989-2010

The downtown waterfront project was initiated under the state's urban renewal provisions and continued in 2002 under the new community revitalization provisions. Among the projects was the Harborside Condos. Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority got into financial difficulties on the project and Kitsap County took on the debt owed by the authority in 2009.

Everett Asarco Smelter Cleanup - 2004

Ecology, the Everett Housing Authority, and the city of Everett worked together to clean up about 100 properties on the most contaminated parts of the site between 1999 and 2007. With the city guaranteeing a line of credit, the Housing Authority purchased properties from Asarco for cleanup and redevelopment. It then sold the properties to a private developer for housing.

The Department of Ecology's Everett Smelter Cleanup provides the history and cleanup activities which are ongoing. Documents related to the initiation of a community renewal area for assisting in the cleanup are noted below. The City of Everett and Everett Housing Authority's role in the cleanup is also described in Linking Toxics Cleanup and Redevelopment Across the States: Lessons for Washington State, prepared for the Department of Ecology Toxics Cleanup Program by the University of Washington, pp. 26-27, 2009.

  • Letter from Department of Ecology to the City of Everett Re City of Everett role in supporting the Everett Housing Authority's purchase and cleanup of properties at the Everett Smelter Site, 05/18/2004 - from Department of Ecology, Toxics Cleanup Program Everett Smelter (Asarco) Site Document Archive
  • Draft Resolution - Declaring Blighted Area under RCW 35.81.050 - Declares the residential area adjacent to the former Asarco Smelter a blighted area, Council Agenda Item, 07/02/2004, approved 07/21/2004
  • Draft Resolution - Designating Everett Housing Authority as Community Renewal Agent, Council Agenda Item, 07/02/2004, approved 07/21/2004
  • Agreement with Everett Housing Authority to Clean Up and Redevelop Property, Council Agenda Item, 07/02/2004, approved 07/21/2004

Olympia Downtown Community Renewal Area - Proposed 2012

Shoreline Aurora Square Community Renewal Area - 2012

Vancouver Community Renewal - 2005

Summary excerpted from the Agenda of the Vancouver City Council, 11/07/2005

It is proposed to revitalize that portion of the Fourth Plain Subarea in the vicinity of Fourth Plain Boulevard and Stapleton Road, consistent with the 2004 Comprehensive Plan, and an adopted Community Renewal Plan. There are numerous conditions that demonstrate supporting a designation of the area as blighted. Two buildings on the Kyocera property are obsolete and have become attractive nuisances. The site is largely vacant and has become a dangerous place with illegal dumping and other criminal activity. Sidewalks are absent on the North side of Fourth Plain contributing to a hostile pedestrian environment. Fourth Plain Boulevard itself is a designated Traffic Safety Corridor because of unsafe conditions. The large parcels lack street and sidewalk interconnectivity with the City of Vancouver's grid system, preventing access for trucks, automobiles and pedestrians to these large undeveloped parcels. Tax revenue from the area is based on a low level of capital improvement demonstrating that the area is underutilized. The area is part of the Fourth Plain Subarea in which median household incomes lag City of Vancouver median household incomes.
  • Vancouver Ordinance No. M-3704 - Authorizes the Housing Authority of Vancouver to exercise specified powers of a public development authority within Vancouver, 05/2005
  • Vancouver Resolution No. M-3518 - Finds the central part of the Central Fourth Plain/Stapleton Community blighted; that the rehabilitation and redevelopment of the area is necessary; and directs that the Vancouver Housing Authority prepare a community renewal plan and administer the renewal project, 11/2005
  • Vancouver Ordinance No. M-3721 - Adopts a community renewal plan for the Fourth Plain/Stapleton Community and appoints the Vancouver Housing Authority to implement and administer the plan, 11/2005

Last Modified: March 29, 2019