skip navigation

MRSC Insight Blog


Posts for Planning Advisor

Visualizing Compatible Density

Visualizing Compatible Density

April 10, 2017 by Bob Bengford
Category: Planning Advisor , Design

Density is a controversial subject. This post demonstrates that streetscapes, vehicular-access elements, and building design are all components that make developments appear less dense, more livable, and attractive. 

Read more | 4 comments


Should Legislative Bodies Conduct Quasi-Judicial Hearings?

Should Legislative Bodies Conduct Quasi-Judicial Hearings?

August 31, 2016 by Joseph W. Tovar
Category: Land Use Administration , Planning Advisor

In our latest Planning Advisor column, Joe Tovar argues that city, town, and county councils should remove themselves from quasi-judicial roles and delegate that authority to hearing examiners instead.

Read more | 5 comments


4 Takeaways from the 2016 National Planning Conference

4 Takeaways from the 2016 National Planning Conference

May 17, 2016 by William Simpson
Category: Planning Advisor

Last month over 4,300 planners, policymakers, and students attended the American Planning Association conference in Phoenix. I’ve selected a few takeaways that might be of interest to planners and community leaders throughout Washington.

Read more | 0 comments


It’s Time to Implement Your Affordable Housing Policies

It’s Time to Implement Your Affordable Housing Policies

March 18, 2016 by Andy Lane
Category: Housing , Planning Advisor

The need for affordable housing is not new. The Growth Management Act ensures that cities and counties have policies that address affordable housing. Although most jurisdictions have the required housing policies, there are still many cities and counties that have never adopted regulations that implement their stated policies.

When affordable housing developers step up to meet this ne...

Read more | 0 comments


The Importance of Population Forecasts for your Comprehensive Plan

The Importance of Population Forecasts for your Comprehensive Plan

January 26, 2016 by William Simpson
Category: Comprehensive Planning-Growth Management , Planning Advisor

Selecting a population forecast is a critical step for communities beginning the review and update of their comprehensive plan. This post provides some answers to common questions for those beginning the update process.

Read more | 1 comments


What’s Next for Planning in Washington?

What’s Next for Planning in Washington?

November 6, 2015 by Jill Sterrett
Category: Comprehensive Planning-Growth Management , Planning Advisor

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the passage of the 1990 Growth Management Act in Washington. Joe Tovar’s excellent article from December 2014 reflected on the problems GMA was designed to solve, whether the Act has been effective, and how it should ch...

Read more | 0 comments


Rural Demand for Municipal Water Or How a Drought Emergency Can Make You Popular

Rural Demand for Municipal Water Or How a Drought Emergency Can Make You Popular

July 6, 2015 by Andy Lane
Category: Water Utilities , Planning Advisor

Planning Advisor Andrew Lane explains how to handle municipal water service requests from homes outside your city or town limits.

Read more | 0 comments


Sign Code Update: Finding the Sweet Spot between Flexibility & Clutter Management

Sign Code Update: Finding the Sweet Spot between Flexibility & Clutter Management

May 26, 2015 by Bob Bengford
Category: Planning Advisor , Sign Control

A case study in integrating form-based and street graphic approaches into the sign code update for the City of Lacey.
 

Read more | 1 comments


Game Changing: Local Planners Rising to Meet Global Challenges

Game Changing: Local Planners Rising to Meet Global Challenges

March 17, 2015 by Jill Sterrett
Category: Climate Change , Planning Advisor

In my article last October, I talked about Climate Change in the news and some of the actions that planners in the Washington Chapter of American Planning Association are taking to plan for the changes that Washington will face.  Today, I’d like to update you on our progress and talk about the upcoming National Planning Conference.

Read more | 0 comments


GMA at 25: Looking Back, Looking Forward

GMA at 25: Looking Back, Looking Forward

December 12, 2014 by Joseph W. Tovar
Category: Comprehensive Planning-Growth Management , Planning Advisor

The year 2015 will be the 25th anniversary of the adoption of Washington State's Growth Management Act (GMA). GMA may be the most important and least understood of state laws from the perspective of today's state, county and city elected officials. Few of them were in office in the 1980's, and therefore understandably lack first-hand knowledge of the serious problems that prompted the 1990 legislature to pass the Act. A 2013 survey of city elected officials revealed that almost none of them had ever received training on the what, why, and how of land use policy-making, much less the GMA.

Read more | 0 comments


Is Your Community Ready for Micro-Housing?

November 13, 2014 by Andy Lane
Category: Housing , Planning Advisor

You're sitting at your desk at the permit counter. An application is dropped in front of you. You quickly skim the application — hmmm... five stories... 40 residential units... five shared kitchens — huh? Then you recognize the project address as a rather small lot. Your eyebrows (and your brain) furrow as you wonder how the architect could fit 40 units on that lot. Your forehead exchanges its confused furrows for wide-eyed astonishment as it dawns on you — each unit is only 120 square feet! At that moment, what pops into your head?

Read more | 0 comments


Climate Change - What is to be Done?

October 13, 2014 by Jill Sterrett
Category: Climate Change , Planning Advisor

The Seattle Times front page article of September 22 headlined: “Study says natural factors, not humans, behind West Coast warming.” The authors - Nate Manutua and Jim Johnstone (former UW scientists) - have concluded that changing wind patterns are responsible for more than 80% of the warming in our region's coastal areas. This may sound like they dispute that global climate change is occurring. However...

Read more | 0 comments


Bike Trails for Transportation or Recreation - When Does Recreational Use Immunity Apply?

April 1, 2014 by Andy Lane
Category: Cycling and Walking , Planning Advisor

I've been riding bicycles for fun and transportation for as long as I can remember. The bike trail I take to work on a Wednesday is sometimes the same one I enjoy on a sunny weekend ride with friends. It makes no difference to me if the bike trail is considered part of the transportation system or parks and recreation system. However, a recent Washington State Supreme Court decision makes it...

Read more | 0 comments


Google Earth - A City Planner's Best Friend

March 1, 2014 by Bob Bengford
Category: Tools for Planners , Planning Advisor

By Bob Bengford AICP, MAKERS

Rarely a day goes by at the office now where I don't use Google Earth. As a planning and urban design consultant working for several communities throughout the Pacific Northwest at any given time, it's an incredible tool to have at your finger tips. When curiosity beckons or specific research in...

Read more | 0 comments


From Vision to Reality: Implementing your Comprehensive Plan

November 1, 2013 by Joseph W. Tovar
Category: Comprehensive Planning-Growth Management , Planning Advisor

Cities and counties planning under the Growth Management Act (GMA) are required to periodically update both their comprehensive plans and development regulations (codes). King, Snohomish and Pierce counties, and their 77 cities, are required to update their plans and codes by June of 2015, while other local governments in the state ...

Read more | 0 comments


Third Promise of GMA Revisited: the New Urban Growth Area Guidebook

August 1, 2013 by Pat Dugan
Category: Comprehensive Planning-Growth Management , Planning Advisor

Too often, GMA Capital Facility Plans have been prepared as an afterthought, rather than as an integral part of the planning process. A particularly critical weakness of many Capital Facility Plans (CFP) has been the failure to demonstrate that designated Urban Growth Areas...

Read more | 0 comments


A Little Bit Pregnant: The Multi-Personalities of Site Specific Rezones - Or - A Cheat Sheet for Everything You Need to Know about Site-Specific Rezones

April 1, 2013 by Phil Olbrechts
Category: Land Use Administration , Planning Advisor

We just can't help ourselves. We have to categorize everything. Put them into neat little boxes. We especially like to do that in the laws we pass. Land use laws are no exception. We start the boxing process for land use laws by throwing an issue in either the “legislative” or “permitting” box. That's usually an easy task. Except for site specific rezones. Sometimes site...

Read more | 0 comments


Land Use Planning and the Art of Planning Commission Maintenance

January 1, 2013 by Joseph W. Tovar
Category: Planning Advisor , Planning Commission

Perhaps the most instructive television ad ever was a memorable pitch by the FRAM auto parts company. The setting was a dimly lit auto garage, where two exasperated mechanics labored over a blown engine. One mechanic held up an oil filter, smiled at the camera and said "pay me now," then shrugged and...

Read more | 0 comments


Planned Unit Developments - Real World Experiences

November 1, 2012 by Bob Bengford
Category: Subdivisions and Planned Developments , Planning Advisor

The concept of planned unit developments has been around now for quite some time. Most cities and counties in Washington have adopted planned unit development ordinances. Much has been written over the years about the technical and legal nature of PUDs. This article, however, takes a look at how some of these ordinances are working in the real world. What are the major issues and challenges? Are...

Read more | 0 comments


Planners, Finance, Geography, and Urban Sprawl

August 1, 2012 by Pat Dugan
Category: Planning Advisor

By following my inclinations rather than my training, I have become both a planner and a finance officer. I came into these professions through the back door, without any significant formal training or education in either. My academic training, instead, focused at the graduate level on geography, with some specialization in economic geography. This background has given me a somewhat different...

Read more | 0 comments


The Unassailable Right to Make Any Decision You Want: Avoiding Judicial Intervention in Local Land Use Decision Making

June 1, 2012 by Phil Olbrechts
Category: Land Use Administration , Planning Advisor , Administrative and Elected Officials

You are an elected councilmember, chosen by your community to make decisions on its behalf. People like you. Yet any superior court judge in your county can single-handedly toss out a decision of your entire city council if the judge decrees your council violated the constitution or some state or federal law. Are there any decisions out of reach of your local superior court judge?

Read more | 0 comments


A Hybrid Approach to Form-Based Codes in the Northwest

March 1, 2012 by Bob Bengford
Category: Planning Advisor

Can form-based codes be applied to Northwest communities? Of course. Are they appropriate for your community? It depends. This post has some things to think about if you are considering updating your land use/design codes using a form-based approach.

Read more | 0 comments


Shaping Growth: Using Capital Facilities to Implement Comprehensive Plans

March 1, 2012 by Pat Dugan
Category: Planning Advisor

This Advisor column was originally published in April 2008.

Most planners understand the importance of capital facilities in carrying out a comprehensive plan. Usually planners think of about the role of capital facilities in a reactive way: how can we ensure that our land use plans will be adequately supported by public facilities? However, the capital facilities can also b...

Read more | 0 comments


Protecting Existing Neighborhoods from the Impacts of New Development

March 1, 2012 by John Owen and Rachel Miller
Category: Planning Advisor

This is the first of two articles discussing regulatory strategies to address two challenges to creating compatible and livable infill development.  This article focuses on achieving compatibility between new multistory development and existing smaller-scale neighborhoods. 

Read more | 0 comments


Providing for Usable Open Space for Multifamily Developments

March 1, 2012 by Bob Bengford
Category: Planning Advisor

Describes concepts for providing usable open space in new multifamily residences, as part of regulatory strategies to address challenges in creating compatible and livable infill development.

Read more | 0 comments


But What About Multiple Family Housing: Does it Pay for Itself?

March 1, 2012 by Pat Dugan
Category: Planning Advisor

This Advisor column was originally published in August 2011.

My last posting in this space[1] challenged the commonly held notion that the cost of providing local governmental services to single family homes exceeds the revenues that those uses generate for the local government; i.e. that single family homes do not financially support the...

Read more | 0 comments


Do Single-Family Dwellings Pay for Themselves?

March 1, 2012 by Pat Dugan
Category: Planning Advisor

This Advisor column was originally published in April 2010.

There was that assertion again: “… everyone knows that single-family houses do not support themselves.” This time I heard it over coffee from an economist who had just completed a fiscal analysis of a proposed development.

The perception that single-family houses do not generate sufficie...

Read more | 0 comments


 more

Blog Archives

GO

Follow Our Blog