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Countywide Planning Policy Amendments

January 31, 2024

Under Washington’s Growth Management Act (GMA), each county must adopt Countywide Planning Policies (CPPs). Along with GMA and Multicounty Planning Policies, those countywide policies govern and guide the comprehensive plan and development regulations in each of the county’s cities. Those CPPs are updated periodically, typically after the state’s Office of Financial Management (OFM) publishes new 20-year population forecasts for each county.

In the most recent round of amendments to the Countywide Planning Policies, which was undertaken in connection with each city’s “state-required major update” of its comprehensive plan not later than December 2024, SeaTac and several other South King County cities (Federal Way, Kent, Renton, and Tukwila) submitted a joint letter to the County recommending and requesting additional amendments to incorporate language to:

  • Recognize that affordable housing is not evenly distributed throughout King County;
  • Account for the impact regional facilities (e.g. transfer stations, jails, behavioral health facilities, homeless shelters, etc.) have on communities in South King County;
  • Ensure that seemingly impartial standards like “efficiency” are not used to perpetuate historical impacts on the BIPOC communities in South King County; and
  • Recognize that regional challenges should be addressed through a well-defined collaborative process.

Initially, action was deferred on several amendments related to the subjects identified by SeaTac and other cities pending review by the Growth Management Planning Council and the King County Affordable Housing Committee, both of which eventually recommended the King County Council adopt the changes. The changes will become effective when ratified by 30% of the jurisdictions in the county representing at least 70% of the County’s population. Ratification occurs by an affirmative vote, or by failure to pass a vote rejecting the amendments. As a result, ratification of the 2023 amendments to the Countywide Planning Policies is likely.

In particular, the CPP amendments further implement the requirements of the GMA by:

  1. Taking into account (1) the existing amount of affordable housing in each jurisdiction, (2) income-restricted housing, and (3) the distribution of wage rates, when allocating affordable housing and permanent supportive housing “need” across King County. In general, the 2023 CPP amendments reflect an equitable distribution of affordable housing through King County, which directly addresses the first of SeaTac’s comments in the joint letter with other South King County cities.
  2. Establishing a process for jurisdictions to document compliance with the King County Housing Countywide Policies as part of each jurisdiction’s Comprehensive Plan development, and to document specific implementation strategies and timeframes. The purpose of this review and recommendation is to ensure consistency between the housing-related CPPs and the jurisdiction’s efforts to accommodate housing. Under this review, King County will also evaluate the meaningfulness of each jurisdiction’s efforts to materially affect the affordability of housing to better match forecasted need.

SeaTac believes it has a larger percent of affordable housing than other cities in the county, and as a result the affordable housing and permanent supportive housing need should be understood in the context of the residential growth target for SeaTac.

The residential growth target for SeaTac is a net increase of 5,900 households between 2019 and 2044. Based upon recent analysis by the City, SeaTac currently has sufficient zoned capacity to accommodate projected housing needs as part of the 2024 Comprehensive Plan Update.

SeaTac has a relatively large housing need for housing affordable at or above 100% of the Area Median Income (AMI), which the city anticipates will be supplied by the private sector. Additionally, the specific affordable housing need for SeaTac will focus on providing housing for people earning less than 50% of AMI.

Procedurally, in 2024, each jurisdiction will share an early draft of their housing-related goals and policies with King County staff. King County staff and the Affordable Housing Committee (AHC) will then review the draft material and provide feedback to cities via a letter from the AHC.

Then, King County staff will be responsible for engaging in ongoing review of each jurisdiction’s efforts in subsequent years (after 2024), with increased monitoring and documentation every 5 years thereafter. SeaTac anticipates this procedure will be sufficient to address the equitable concerns raised in its joint letter regarding amendments to the Countywide Planning Policies.

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