What is the county’s comprehensive plan?

An outline of what the plan does and why residents should weigh in.

What is the county’s comprehensive plan?

The county’s comprehensive plan outlines how county staff will manage local growth over the next 20 years. This includes the amount of infrastructure (like roads) and resources (like Emergency Medical Services) needed for a growing population. The plan is regulated by the state’s Growth Management Act, which was passed in 1990 to curb rapid population growth and urban sprawl.

Does everyone have a comprehensive plan?

Twenty-nine Washington counties follow these guidelines or about 95 percent of the state. Some Washington counties opt in or are mandated to create comprehensive plans. San Juan County opted in.

Why is it being updated?

The state mandates that comprehensive plans are updated about every decade. Work on San Juan County’s began in 1992 and it became GMA-compliant in 2007, after years of litigation from residents disputing parts of it.

Why should you care?

The comprehensive plan outlines how the county will look and operate for the next two decades. Do you think there is enough affordable housing in the county? A section of the plan reviews that. Are you in fear that the island thrift store Community Treasures could close because it provides services outside its regulated zoning? Another section of the plan reviews that. There are other sections, too, as well overall “lenses” to review designs, like planning for climate change or a growing senior population. Islanders can help staff better plan for the future by giving individualized input.

How does the plan turn into action?

The comprehensive plan includes goals for the county. Example: One goal is to reduce urban sprawl.

Policies are then created around goals. Example: To reduce urban sprawl, the county mandates that fewer developments are built outside dense populations, which the comprehensive plan calls Urban Growth Areas.

These policies are then visualized. Example: View property regulations in land-use designation maps and charts, which outline zones, like commercial and residential, and density limits.

How can I make recommendations?

Email comments to compplancomments@sanjuanco.com. To stay up to date on the plan, visit www.sanjuanco.com/1079/Comprehensive-Plan-Update and sign up for notices at www.sanjuanco.com/list.aspx.