Planning staff is proposing various text amendments to the Land Use Element as part of the 2017 Comprehensive Plan amendment cycle. There are three categories of changes proposed, as described further below.
A. Updated Growth Targets
Over the course of the 2015 Comprehensive Plan Periodic Update, the City became aware of a citywide deficiency related to housing and employment capacity and the ability to meet the 2030 growth targets adopted for Pierce County. This deficiency, as well as inconsistencies with the housing and employment growth assumptions used throughout the plan (primarily between the Land Use and Transportation Elements), led to the City’s comprehensive plan being conditionally certified by the Puget Sound Regional Council.
Following the 2015 Update, the City Council adopted the South Hill Neighborhood Plan in March 2017, which amended the zoning designation of approximately 480 acres of the South Hill neighborhood resulting in increased housing and employment allowances. City staff then worked to analyze the revised capacity of housing and employment in the City, particularly South Hill, in light of those zoning changes. This work has included revising assumptions for the number of parcels anticipated as likely to redevelop over the next 20 years, assuming a higher number of employees per acre for some commercial zones, and accounting for increased housing due to the change in zoning allowances.
The description of Section II Population Density and Building Intensities Based on Future Land Uses has then been updated to reflect the South Hill zoning changes and resulting increased housing and employment capacity. This section has also been amended to address consistency with the assumptions use in the Transportation Element.
In adopting the 2015 Period Update to the Comprehensive Plan, the City received a conditional certification from the regional certifying authority, Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC). Following that conditional certification, PSRC and City staff worked to identify steps to move toward a fully certified Comprehensive Plan. The City is now proposing certain amendments to the Land Use Element to address future growth targets and estimated land capacity as part of the requirements for full certification. Throughout this process, staff has engaged with PSRC staff to ensure that the proposed amendments address the issues related to the conditional certification status.
Through PSRC communication after the Planning Commission public hearing, it came to staff’s attention that the growth projections in the Land Use Element still needed to be projected out to 2035, to be consistent with the year used in the Plan’s Transportation Element. Staff then made additional amendments beyond what the Planning Commission considered to address the future 2035 housing and employment projects and their relation to the updated capacity analysis. When the growth projections were extended to 2035, it became apparent that the revised capacity analysis, while exceeding the previously established 2030 growth targets, remain insufficient to meet the 2035 growth projections.
Further conversations with PSRC staff have confirmed that the proposed amendments addressing (1) 2035 housing and employment growth projections, (2) updated housing and employment capacity analysis, and (3) itemization of upcoming 2018 planning projects considered reasonable measures to address the remaining housing and employment deficiencies will be sufficient to address the city’s conditional certification and result in proceeding toward full certification. The City will then continue working on the planning projects identified to address remaining capacity deficiencies.
The proposed text amendments can be reviewed on page 3.7 and 3.8.
B. - Policy Amendments
Staff has identified various policies that were not carried over during the 2015 Update but that, upon review and use of the Land Use Element over the past two years, would be beneficial to incorporate back into the Element. These are policies related to residential land uses, including rural buffer residential, senior housing density, RM-Core density, and incompatible uses in residential zones.
Additionally, the recent work related to Zoning Overlays has resulted in an amendment that would add one new policy related to the general use of zoning overlays and remove one existing policy related specifically to the flood plain overlay.
The proposed policy amendments can be reviewed on pages 3.13 through 3.21.
C. Future Land Use Map
Update the Future Land Use map that is a part of this chapter (page 3.12) to reflect changes adopted earlier this year as part of the South Hill Neighborhood Plan.