Cities and counties are required, by the Growth Management Act (GMA), to periodically update their critical area development regulations, and at least once every eight years(1). No major updates have been made to the regulations since they were adopted in 2004. The City is due for a review and update to its critical area development regulations.
Updates are an opportunity for the community to review the existing critical areas code, existing conditions, changes in the environment, and any new scientific information. These can all inform the update process.
The proposed update will need to comply with the Growth Management Act, meet "best available science" requirements, be consistent with state law and be consistent with the City's 2015 Comprehensive Plan. The regulations are to "...give special consideration to conservation or protection measures necessary to preserve or enhance anadromous fish(eries)." (RCW 36.70A.172(1)).
The update will include additions, alterations, and removals to the current regulations. Examples of changes include, amending the critical areas maps to reflect information gathered since 2004, amending definitions to match state definitions, more detail on mitigation of wetlands impacts, establishing a clear review and approval process and permit, and clarifying where and how critical areas regulations will apply.
A schedule for the update process has been prepared.
(1) Updates to development regulations, including critical area regulations, are to be made concurrent with updates to the City's Comprehensive Plan to ensure consistency (RCW 36.70A.060(3)). The City's most recent update to the Comprehensive Plan was adopted June 2015. Limited City resources delayed the critical areas development regulations update process. The next major update is due in 2023.