Almost 2 million people will move into King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap counties in the next 30 years. That’s like adding the city of Redmond to the region every year.
The growth of the previous 20 years has already stressed many of us. What will life look like with even more people here?
Experience has taught us that population growth can either overwhelm or rejuvenate a region. The difference between being overwhelmed and rejuvenation is the degree to which a community intentionally shapes its growth.
This is no small challenge, but it’s also why we engage King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap county communities in developing a 30-year plan for growth. For the last two years, Puget Sound Regional Council has been working with county, city, port, transit and tribal leaders to engage the public and develop a plan that reflects our regional values.
As diverse as our communities are, we do have common values. Everywhere you go, people talk about how much they value Puget Sound, our mountains, farms and forests. Protecting rural and open-space areas is a deeply held priority for people in the region. People want shorter commutes, so jobs and housing need to be closer together. Shorter commutes reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and give us more time with our families.
Long-range planning can improve people’s access to family-wage jobs and housing they can afford. The affordability of housing is critical to this region’s success. The public input is clear; people are concerned about living in cities that price everyone out. Economic diversity is essential to a city’s vibrancy, and people are feeling the loss of neighborhoods that used to be affordable to more people.
Another way to improve affordability for families is to develop housing and transit closer together. With access to robust transit options, people aren’t geographically limited, nor are they forced to take on the cost of a car.
The trifecta is to develop all three at once, but seizing these opportunities requires a coordinated, long-term view. Cities, developers and businesses need to make big investments, and they need a common vision of the future to do that.
The draft VISION 2050 plan is out now for public review, and we are eager to have more public input on it. The plan addresses the environment, climate change, housing, job growth and transit, but also considers these topics in the context of thriving communities, equity and health.
This is our chance to shape the Puget Sound region for the next 30 years. We can leave a legacy that our children will inherit. Yes, there will be more people here. But by working together, we can help make sure that change is a benefit to our communities. Growth must support a broad variety of housing options, improved transit corridors and economic diversity. Planning for growth allows us to be intentional about where housing and jobs are created, and where natural space is protected.
Everyone is invited to review the plan and share your opinions online or at an event. More information is at psrc.org/vision