Seattle’s draft 2045 Comprehensive Plan

The following comments to Seattle’s draft 2045 Comprehensive Plan are in regards to legislation passed last year by the Washington State Legislature on Comprehensive Plan requirements.

  1. In the Climate and Environment Section, p 149, of the draft One Seattle Comprehensive Plan,  the heading Tree Canopy, should be changed to Urban Forest and Tree Canopy. 
  2. Discussion – Seattle’s urban forest and  tree canopy is fundamental… add “climate resiliency”

Rationale for adding urban forest is legislative amendments noted in text below. Highlighting is mine (SZ) for pointing out specific sections. Underlined areas are new to the State Growth Management Act.

The Washington State Legislature in 2023 passed E2SHB 1181 – AN ACT Relating to improving the state’s climate response through updates to the state’s planning framework.

Section 1.(14) Climate change and resiliency. Ensure that comprehensive  plans, development regulations, and regional policies, plans, and  strategies under RCW 36.70A.210 and chapter 47.80 RCW adapt to and mitigate the effects of a changing climate; support reductions in  greenhouse gas emissions and per capita vehicle miles traveled; prepare for climate impact scenarios; foster resiliency to climate  impacts and natural hazards; protect and enhance environmental,  economic, and human health and safety; and advance environmental  justice. …

Section 3.(3) The comprehensive plan of a county or city that is required or chooses to plan under RCW 36.70A.040 shall consist of a map or maps,  and descriptive text covering objectives, principles, and standards used to develop the comprehensive plan. The plan shall be an internally consistent document and all elements shall be consistent with the future land use map. A comprehensive plan shall be adopted and amended with public participation as provided in RCW 36.70A.140. Each comprehensive plan shall include a plan, scheme, or design for each of the following: (1) A land use element designating the proposed general  distribution and general location and extent of the uses of land, where appropriate, for agriculture, timber production, housing,  commerce, industry, recreation, open spaces and green spaces, urban and community forests within the urban growth area, general aviation  airports, public utilities, public facilities, and other land uses.  The land use element shall include population densities, building intensities, and estimates of future population growth. The land use element shall provide for protection of the quality and quantity of groundwater used for public water supplies. The land use element must give special consideration to achieving environmental justice in its goals and policies, including efforts to avoid creating or worsening environmental health disparities. Wherever possible, the land use element should consider utilizing urban planning approaches that promote physical activity and reduce per capita vehicle miles traveled within the jurisdiction, but without increasing greenhouse gas emissions elsewhere in the state. Where applicable, the land use element shall review drainage, flooding, and stormwater runoff in the area and nearby jurisdictions and provide guidance for corrective actions to mitigate or cleanse those discharges that pollute waters of the state, including Puget Sound or waters entering Puget Sound. The land use element must reduce and mitigate the risk to lives and property posed by wildfires by using land use planning tools, which may include, but are not limited to, adoption of portions or all of the wildland urban interface code developed by the international code  council or developing building and maintenance standards consistent with the firewise USA program or similar program designed to reduce  wildfire risk, reducing wildfire risks to residential development in high risk areas and the wildland urban interface area, separating human development from wildfire prone landscapes, and protecting  existing residential development and infrastructure through community wildfire preparedness and fire adaptation measures.

2nd change – In the Land Use Element General Development Standards: 

 Policies LU 4.8 Use following phrasing.  

 Use urban forest and tree requirements to preserve and enhance the City’s physical, aesthetic and cultural character and to enhance the value of the trees and urban forest in addressing stormwater management, pollution reduction, climate resiliency and heat island mitigation.

Steve Zemke

Friends of Seattle’s Urban Forest