Every four years, the County updates its Comprehensive Plan. The Comp Plan, as it is known, is the second largest policy document adopted by the Council, after the biennial budget, and it has been an important component of the Council’s work this year, appearing at 14 separate meetings. It contains policies that guide development and land use in the unincorporated areas of the county, as well as how services are provided for unincorporated residents. In addition, the Plan guides how the County works with cities to develop and implement policies that affect the entire region.
Since 1994, the Comp Plan has been written in accordance with the Washington State Growth Management Act (GMA) to protect resources and enhance quality of life. The key purpose of the GMA is to focus development in urban areas and preserve the rural and agricultural areas by preventing sprawl. King County’s implementation of the GMA is the primary reason so much of the county east of Issaquah retains its rural character.
As Vice Chair of the Transportation, Economy and Environment (TrEE) Committee, Claudia has played an active role in reviewing and updating the Plan. Throughout the process, some of her key policy goals included:
- Access to affordable housing and ensuring County policies support and encourage the expansion of housing options around the county. She took the lead to add a new policy calling for King County to work with cities to create a regional plan to address the affordable housing crisis.
- Guaranteeing that the Plan includes good transportation and transit policies that support efficient access to jobs, education, services, and recreation for everyone. This effort included ensuring the Plan supported the Eastside Rail Corridor as a transformative piece of land that will be a resource for both recreation and transit in the future.
- Safeguarding the Growth Management Act boundary to continue the County’s commitment to containing development in the urban areas. For example, Claudia voted to remove a demonstration project that would have built subdivision with 72 houses in the rural area near Maple Valley.
- Keeping an eye out for ways new or changed policies might impact District 6 residents. Because the Sammamish Valley is the only unincorporated area in District 6, this meant a focus on regional policies around transportation, housing, and health policies.
The TrEE Committee approved a version of the Comp Plan in its September 20th meeting and the Full Council will take it up in December for final approval. The lag is necessary because the State requires external reviews of the Plan, as well as extensive public notice.
This was the first Comp Plan Councilmember Balducci reviewed as a County Councilmember and her main conclusion is that this is a strong plan that works on the ground and protects the values of King County. The changes that were made to the Plan make it stronger and reinforced its commitment to the land use policies that have successfully guided the County in the last two decades.