s our region’s population continues to grow, policymakers at all levels are focused on planning for anticipated future growth and the challenges that come with it. Snohomish County and its cities are in the process of updating our long-term growth strategies, which will culminate in the form of local comprehensive plan updates in 2023.
Prior to those plan updates, the Puget Sound Regional Council is putting forward a document titled “Vision 2050,” an update to the previous “Vision 2040” document.
The PSR Council is a four-county regional planning organization made up of Snohomish, King, Pierce and Kitsap counties and the cities within them. The PSR Council sets growth targets and strategies and allocates federal infrastructure dollars to transportation projects in the region.
In my capacity as chair of the Snohomish County Council’s Planning Committee and co-chair of the local Snohomish County Tomorrow planning organization, I have been working with fellow policymakers to ensure that north Snohomish County has a strong voice throughout these processes.
In recent comment letters on behalf of Snohomish County, we have emphasized the need for local authority and flexibility in planning for growth. Because the PSR Council is dominated by King County representatives due to population, I believe it is important that Snohomish County maintains local authority so urban Seattle representatives are not mandating policy for all parts of the Puget Sound region.
The policies adopted in Vision 2050 will have significant impacts on the housing supply and, in turn, the affordability of housing in Snohomish County.
As I have written before, we must look at how local policies and regulations affect housing prices. Reductions in excessive regulatory barriers and addressing the shortage of housing supply are both essential in order to stabilize housing costs.
We are also working to ensure that the policies within Vision 2050 allow property owners to use their property at its highest and best use. Seattle forces are attempting to limit what rural property owners can do with their land. I have been sharply critical of such efforts and will continue to fight for the property rights of Snohomish County residents.
Part of Vision 2050 also focuses on a housing and employment balance. The recent designation of the Cascade Industrial Center in Arlington/Marysville will bring more federal transportation dollars to the area increasing the ability of north county residents to live and work in their communities. I believe it is critical that our county’s infrastructure keeps up with the growth we are seeing; this funding will move us in the right direction.
Greater federal transportation funding and more family-wage jobs closer to home will help reduce traffic demand on our already congested freeways and roads and increase the quality of living for north county residents.
I will continue to advocate for the residents of north Snohomish County throughout the process of review and approval of Vision 2050 at the PSR Council. I will keep county residents informed as these regional policies trickle down to the local level in the comprehensive plan process.