Half of Puget Sound’s cities and counties miss the mark.
All large cities and counties were required to update their development codes and regulations in 2016 to make low-impact development the “preferred and commonly used approach.” But not all have actually taken meaningful steps towards planning a sustainable future.
We’ve compiled a scorecard that shows how cities and counties around Puget Sound are performing. For example, twenty of these municipalities failed to meet this requirement and filed a “notice of noncompliance” (known as a G20) with the Department of Ecology. You can see how your community has scored on our scorecard. This tool offers you a way to be part of this important transition that will protect our communities and our waterways for generations to come.
HOW WERE THEY GRADED?
Under the Clean Water Act, cities and counties are required to manage their stormwater runoff to protect water quality and make LID the “preferred and commonly used approach.” This means writing LID into the municipal code that governs development projects. We graded them on five key indicators of if they accomplished the goals the law set out. Read more more about each grading rubric here.
HOW WELL DID THEY DO?
Cities and counties were required by law to go through a process to review and update their development codes to include low-impact development techniques to manage stormwater runoff. We looked at whether this process was complete and what kind of updates were made to determine whether municipalities met this requirement.
Want to explore an interactive map to find your city?
Visit Puget Soundkeeper’s map here!
WHICH COMMUNITIES STAND OUT?
Eight cities and counties went above and beyond, showing true leadership and vision for the health of their communities now and into the future. Kitsap County, Lacey, Oak Harbor, Olympia, Port Orchard, Renton, Seattle, and Tacoma all made an extra effort to look far and wide for ways to use low-impact development as a tool to make their communities healthier, greener, and more resilient.
“Port Orchard recognized the importance of LID techniques both economically and environmentally. The City felt it was important to provide the development community with tools that had the potential to lower development costs. At the same time, the City has numerous fish bearing streams that require clean, year round instream flows.”
Zack Holt, Port Orchard
GREEN STAR LEADERS
Green stars were given to cities and counties that embraced a healthy, more sustainable future and went above and beyond permit requirements in some areas. These cities and counties did a thorough and deep review of their code, created an in-house review team of diverse local government staff, and worked hard to educate and ask for feedback from their community. (Green stars do not necessarily align with those that received five checks on the checklist, because those five key indicators are only a small percentage of all the code updates recommended by the Toolkit.)
STORIES FROM OUR COMMUNITIES
The City of Fife was not fully aware that they were required to make updates to make LID the norm for development. After receiving a letter from Puget Soundkeeper Alliance that informed them of this requirement, they jumped into action. Because of Soundkeeper’s letter and Fife’s willingness to embrace these principles, they now have a good code and are making way for a safe and healthy community.
Kitsap County has been a leader on LID practices for some time. However, the County still took this permit requirement to heart, submitting 91 pages of amended code language and making significant progress in the way we plan, design, and build our communities – beyond other cities and counties efforts.
Mountlake Terrace spent six months working hard to update their code in order to obey the law. However, after pressure from a large developer, Mountlake Terrace’s city council refused to pass vital portions of their LID development code updates, leaving the status of their rules and the sustainability of their community in question. City Staff are working diligently to complete code and remedy the situation.
The City of Olympia committed to a transparent code update process: holding 19 public meetings, convening a citizen’s focus group and a technical workgroup, as well as crafting accessible material resources.
City of Renton embraced the comprehensive effort this permit requirement was meant to entail: convening an internal review team from public works, community services, fire departments, along with the city attorney’s office. The City reviewed not just their development code, but all four corners of their municipal codes, along with their comprehensive plans, shoreline management plans, and design standards. As a result of good work, their proposed revisions were representative of a comprehensive review process as well.