Council considers ways to engage residents in 2024 Comp Plan update

City Senior Planner Jonathan Morales and Sierra Carson, a senior planner with consultant OTAK, talk about Comprehensive Plan engagement.

The City of Mountlake Terrace is gearing up to create a solid 2024 Comprehensive Plan, said senior planner Jonathan Morales at the Mountlake Terrace City Council’s Monday, July 17, business meeting.

On Monday night, Morales presented the council with the plans for the public participation portion of the plan. The four-phase plan is currently in phase one: Initiate. This phase began in mid-May when the project kicked off, Morales said.

The Comprehensive Plan is a document that guides the city’s decisions over a 20-year time period, serving as a blueprint for development. It is also meant to reflect the vision and priorities of the city and residents, while meeting the requirements of state and federal law.

Washington State’s Growth Management Act (GMA) requires that cities and counties update their Comprehensive Plans on a periodic schedule. The purpose of the 2024 update is to ensure the city is planning for the next 20 years of population and employment growth. It gives the city an opportunity to review and revise the plan and development regulations to ensure they comply with GMA requirements.

Morales said city staff is hoping to get more community involvement than ever before, which is why staff are taking the public participation plan very seriously. Hoping to reach all demographics that make up Mountlake Terrace, Morales said all material will be translated into Spanish and can be translated to Vietnamese, Amharic, Russian, Korean and any other languages as needed.

City staff also plan to run the materials by multiple city boards and commissions, most notably the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commission.

“Our next process is to look through this list and vet it further and also identify other groups that may not be included on this list,” Morales said.

However vigorous city staff are about the public participation plan, Mountlake Terrace Mayor Kyoko Matsumoto Wright said excitement alone will not be enough to get the public involved.

“Asking people to come and help us with our Comp Plan is going to draw probably zero people in reality,” she said, “because they don’t know what a Comp Plan is. ‘Come to this meeting and hear about what a Comp Plan is.’ That’s going to draw another zero people. So I’m sitting here thinking, what can we do to get them from A to B? For them to even be interested enough to come look at the next step?”

Matsumoto Wright asked Morales and his staff to look for angles that will really catch the public’s attention and make them want to be engaged with the city’s planning process.

Mayor Pro Tem Bryan Wahl agreed and said the more planning and input for the new Comprehensive Plan, the better.

“This is our opportunity to shape our community for years to come,” he said. “This is our chance to create the vision that we’ve been talking about.”

In other business, the council unanimously voted to approve the amendment to the Volunteers of America Western Washington (VOAWW) budget. Councilmember Steve Woodard stepped out of the room for the vote as he is employed by the VOAWW.

According to City Manager Jeff Niten, the amendment relates to funding being returned to the council. Earlier this year, councilmembers allocated $500,000 of the city’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to the VOAWW for its Neighborhood Center. However, the organization did not utilize the entire amount and wanted to return the unused portion.

“Not all of that money was spent, and we received back $382,354 of that $500,000,” Niten said.

This money will be put into the ARPA fund for other allocations the council decides on down the road.

— By Lauren Reichenbach

  1. So, “What IS a Comp Plan?”, he asks his local news source. Can you report what it is rather than just report that they want to improve participation?

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