Guiding Moses Lake in planning for growth



Greetings to the community of Moses Lake and the stakeholders in Moses Lake.

It has been an intense fall season. The public processes, which included the adoption of the new comprehensive city plan and a very competitive election that affected four of our seven city council members, created an important conversation in the community. As with the “phone game”, history can change and therefore with this relationship to the community, I will give you the point of view of your city manager.

I am very happy that our city council has taken steps to adopt the new comprehensive city plan. The city hasn’t had this holistic conversation for 20 years. Our community has changed over time, and ideas and values ​​have been brought forward through an extensive community input process which resulted in a city map that reflects the type of community Moses Lake could become if the plan is implemented, starting with a new vision: “Moses Lake is a diverse, connected and supportive community of innovation and opportunity that values ​​its namesake lake, its small town vibe, its thriving arts and culture scene. growth, abundance of sun and outdoor activities.

The vision is supported by the objectives set for the city:

• Foster greater confidence in city government

• Work with partners to improve the quality of the lake water

• Fight homelessness and affordable housing

• Fight against sprawl which puts a strain on the transport network

• Respond to the vitality of the city center and the overall aesthetic of the community

• Improve the tourist economy

• Work to improve the job offer, especially for young people.

As your city manager, I get involved in the work of the city. To meet the above goals, our city strives to increase our transparency and community engagement. These relationships with the community are an example. We are excited about the work of the Watershed Council and we are actively working with it on lake health issues. Housing is a major concern of our community as it has become increasingly unaffordable, especially given the fact that 49% of our population has a family income of less than $ 50,000 per year. And our feedback has shown a desire for a range of housing types.

Our new housing action plan identifies ways the city can have a direct impact on affordable housing and builds on our work with the Sleep Center and an improved shelter to tackle homelessness. The current development code update will address many of the strategies of the housing action plan which has been adopted as part of the overall comprehensive plan.

The city uses accommodation tax funds to support the tourism economy and has invested in the Larson Recreation Center to improve facilities. A very exciting new project is the effort to develop a creative neighborhood in Moses Lake. This will foster the revitalization of our downtown and connect many of our citizens, who can also be artists and artisans, with resources and opportunities downtown and in our local farmers market. With the work of the Creative District, the Downtown Moses Lake Association managed to receive (thank you) a T-Mobile grant to develop an incubator based on creative businesses. It will also help us recruit jobs in Moses Lake that will bring families seeking these quality of life characteristics in their community.

I left the more difficult goals until the end. First, a brief overview of the city’s planning process under the Growth Management Act (GMA) is helpful.

The Washington State Legislature passed the Growth Management Act (RCW Chapter 36.70A, the “GMA”) in 1990 in response to concerns: “Uncoordinated and unplanned growth, along with a lack of targets commons, expressing the public interest in the conservation and use of our lands, pose a threat to the environment, sustainable economic development and the health, safety and high quality of life enjoyed by the residents of this state.

The GMA requires Grant County and its cities to complete comprehensive development plans and regulations to guide future growth, which includes a mandate to manage and direct growth to urban areas where utilities and facilities can be provided on more effectively, to protect farms and rural character, to protect critical environmental areas and to conserve land rich in natural resources. The GMA requires the city to review and, if necessary, revise its comprehensive plan and bylaws every eight years to ensure they remain compliant.

“Comprehensive planning identifies community or ‘public’ interest through a public and political process. The resulting plans reflect the political compromises necessary to forge consensus for a community plan. While not everyone is happy with the end result, the overall plan as adopted should address the many conflicting forces that shape a community. This is not the goal of a comprehensive plan to eliminate conflict. Rather, it provides the framework for examining and resolving conflicting issues in the community. (Washington State Department of Commerce Growth Management Services Local Planning Short Course Guidebook, Version 5.3, 2017)

The Comprehensive City Plan addresses the central question of how we will balance and resolve competing demands on our public facilities and resources. We are mandated to ensure that the facilities and utilities necessary to support the development will be adequate to serve the development at the time the development is available for occupancy and use without reducing current service levels below minimum locally established standards.

The GMA planning process imposes a strong requirement for citizen participation from which the values, needs, goals and objectives of the community are expressed in the overall land use plan. The city embarked on a broad citizen engagement process, which began in July 2020 and culminated in December 2020. The public outreach process included mailouts, an online story map that yielded insights meaningful responses, interviews with stakeholders and public meetings. The names of stakeholders were brainstormed at the first meeting of the working group on July 16, 2020, to ensure broad participation.

In our community outreach, we heard many comments about urban sprawl, pressure on the transportation network, and the inability to focus our city’s limited resources. Because our growth exceeded our ability to serve, City Council retained the services of professional consultants to assess our comprehensive plan with particular attention to capital assets, housing and transportation items, as well as size and location. the shape of our urban growth zone. The analysis that was presented was an in-depth analysis that actually opened our eyes and those of city council members to the fact that the city is woefully behind in its planning.

The city is required to design an UGA to include areas and densities sufficient to allow the urban growth expected to occur in the city for the next 20-year period, based on our population projection assigned by the Washington State Office. of Financial Management. To ensure growth, the city needed a thorough understanding of the land that could be realistically developed, available, and suitable for growth within our community. Analysis of our UGA revealed that it was oversized and unsustainable.

Here are the words of the Ministry of Transportation: “The new analysis of the city’s land capacity is quite remarkable and is a fundamental part of strong community planning. As other state agencies have noted, development decisions have long-term impacts on the transportation system, other capital assets, municipal budgets, and the quality of life of your residents. Adjusting to projected growth in a compact land use model with appropriate market-based contingencies is a key step in minimizing initial investment costs and ongoing O&M costs for all components of a multimodal transport system. Accordingly, the WSDOT supports the recommendation to “identify those parts of the unincorporated AMU (urban growth area) where it will be difficult to expand urban services during the planning period and consider expanding urban services. remove these areas from the UGA ”.

And they identify further analysis that needs to be done: “The WSDOT appreciates the inclusion of information from various transportation planning efforts, including ongoing studies for Mae Valley and Yonezawa Boulevard. However RCW 36.70a.070 (6) specifies broader content requirements for the transport element, including the following:

• “Estimation of traffic impacts on state-owned transport facilities resulting from land use assumptions…

• Specific actions and requirements for the compliance of locally owned transport facilities… which are below established service standards…

• Traffic forecasts over at least ten years on the basis of the development plan adopted… ‘”

Due to state GMA requirements, the overall plan identifies a number of areas where we are deficient and further planning is needed. plan for growth and how it will be financed.

This community knows we struggle to balance competing demands on our public facilities and resources. The Love’s project illustrates the impacts of growth. We have heard your voices, and the city council has made the very difficult decision to support a downsized UGA to allow the city’s infrastructure and resources to catch up with growth, and so we know how we will finance future growth without impact levels of service to current residents.

The numbers in our capital plan are revealing: Staff identified $ 298 million in planned capital costs over the next 20 years, but the city’s projected revenue over that same period is less than $ 218 million. of dollars. We have our work cut out for us.


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