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A Road Map to Washington’s Future

Phase I – Pre-Assessment

In 2015, Washington State legislators asked the William D. Ruckelshaus Center (Center), to design a process for a comprehensive and collaborative look at the Growth Management Act (GMA). The Center recommended conducting an assessment that would examine Washington’s framework for managing growth, including a process to articulate a statewide vision and collaboratively map a path to that future.

To gauge support for this effort, the Center conducted a Pre-Assessment from October 2016 through June 2017. The Pre-Assessment consisted of a series of conversations with individuals from the following groups, organizations, and governments involved in various growth management efforts, seven of which became sponsors of the Pre-Assessment. These sponsors, shown in bold below, committed a total of $100,000 of seed money to support the Pre-Assessment.

  • Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians
  • Association of Washington Business
  • Association of Washington Cities
  • Building Industry Association of Washington
  • Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Citizens Alliance for Property Rights
  • Futurewise
  • Master Builders of King and Snohomish Counties
  • Quinault Indian Nation
  • Suquamish Indian Tribe
  • Swinomish Indian Tribal Community
  • The Tulalip Tribes
  • Washington Chapter of the American Planning Association
  • Washington City Planning Directors Association
  • Washington Public Health Association
  • Washington Public Ports Association
  • Washington Research Council
  • Washington Sewer and Water Districts Association
  • Washington State Boundary Review Boards Association of Washington
  • Washington State Association of Counties
  • Washington State Department of Commerce
  • Washington State Department of Ecology
  • Washington State Department of Natural Resources
  • Washington State Department of Transportation
  • Washington State Farm Bureau
  • Washington State Transportation Commission

All the parties were asked three questions:

  1. Is now the right time for an assessment that would examine Washington’s growth management framework,
    including a process to identify a desired statewide vision for Washington’s future?
  2. Is the Ruckelshaus Center an appropriate neutral convener to facilitate such an assessment?
  3. Would you be interested in participating in such an effort?

There was broad support for conducting an assessment. Many expressed a sense of urgency, citing decreasing housing affordability and transportation mobility, continued loss of productive farmland and viable marine habitat, the effects of climate change, the uneven distribution of growth and economic prosperity across the state, and a lack of fiscal tools to keep pace with infrastructure and service delivery demands.

Many observed that in addition to the GMA, other state laws and institutions affect land use, transportation, economic development, resource conservation, environmental protection, service delivery and governance. There was strong support for an assessment that included the entire planning framework. These findings were shared with members of the Legislature.

Read the Road Map Phase I Report (pdf)

Phase II – Road Map to Washington’s Future 2017-2019

The Legislature responded to the Pre-Assessment by allocating funds to the Center to facilitate a two-year process to create a “Road Map to Washington’s Future.” The budget proviso outlined a scope, schedule and process for articulating a vision of Washington’s desired future and building agreement for the additions, revisions, or clarifications to the framework needed to reach that future.

The Center’s project team is currently refining the major components of the Road Map project. While project design will evolve, the Center’s project team has identified the following major components of the Road Map project:

State-wide engagement to better understand the desired future for Washington: In order to understand how the framework aligns with, creates barriers to, and/or supports the desired future of the communities it is meant to serve, the project team is designing State-wide engagement processes that will include a) engagement with tribes; b) a series of community workshops (25+) across the state; c) a process to identify what the next generation of Washingtonians desire for the state’s future; and d) review of existing vision statements in plans that engaged residents in visioning during the last 3-5 years.

Individual and group interviews: The Center’s project team will be conducting interviews to explore the planning framework’s strengths, issues, and potential solutions or improvements to the framework.

Research and new inquiry: The project team will identify pertinent data and partner with state public universities on targeted research.

Strategy for communicating about the project: The project team will be designing the components of a project communication strategy, which may include a webpage that will be updated throughout the project. The project team will provide periodic updates to the appropriate committees of the Legislature and the office of the Governor.

Funding Strategy: Given the scope and complexity of the project, additional funding may be necessary to support some of the project components. The project team will be identifying potential additional needs and developing a funding strategy.

Information synthesis and development of recommendations for final report: The project team will produce a final report in June 2019 that will include key findings about a vision for Washington’s desired future and recommendations on additions, revisions, or clarifications to the framework needed to reach that future. This will include convening parties for collaborative conversations to identify potential areas of agreement on ways to adapt Washington’s growth management framework of statutes, institutions, and policies to meet future challenges.


Updated January 17, 2018