Growth boundaries will stay: - County report says cities big enough for next 20 years

by Jeff Switzer
Eastside Journal Reporter

King County has enough room for the next 20 years of growth -- 300,000 more people -- without pushing farther into farm country, according to a draft growth report being released today.

The new report predicts that development over the next two decades will increase housing units in Woodinville by 50 percent and in Renton by 27 percent.

In Bellevue, the county's second-largest city, housing is expected to grow by 10,000 homes -- 21 percent. And Federal Way, the third-largest city, will grow by nearly 6,200 homes -- 19 percent.

Most of the new housing is anticipated in the two cities' downtown areas.

Cities on the Eastside and in South County have enough land available through 2020 for those homes, and developers can build them without cramming homes more densely than they do today, according to the new draft report, ``Jobs and Housing Growth Targets for 2022.''

The report will be presented at today's 4 p.m. meeting of the Growth Management Planning Council, a panel of local and county elected officials charged with planning for the county's population and job growth. The meeting will be in the council's fifth-floor boardroom at 1011 Western Ave. in Seattle.

The report was created collaboratively during the past eight months by city planning directors. The figures represent the first update of the county's 20-year housing projections since the state Growth Management Act forced counties to carry on such planning in 1992. The law requires the plans be updated every 10 years.

The Eastside is anticipated to get the largest share of the county's population and job growth -- 99,000 people and 103,000 jobs. South King County is expected to see 92,000 more people and 89,500 more jobs. Seattle and Shoreline are planning for increases of 92,000 people and 95,850 jobs.

``These are not housing production quotas,'' said Kirkland Planning Director Eric Shields, who helped author the report. ``These are planning commitments ... but we cannot control all the forces that go into housing.''

The new report does not address such growth-related problems as jammed roads, increasingly expensive housing and a potential shortage of drinking water.

``The expansion of Interstate 405 and the 520 bridge are going to be critically important to our ability to accommodate additional growth,'' said Shields, informal leader of Eastside planners. ``And completing a high-capacity transit system -- whether it's rail or bus -- is going to be very important.

``Those are the sorts of things cities alone can't provide. They're inherently regional improvements. Even a big city like Bellevue, the biggest on the Eastside, can't expand 405 or build a transit system.''

The same goes for drinking water. New policies to force the county to tie housing growth to transportation and water are on the table at today's meeting.

Growth limits that hinge on infrastructure will be no slam dunk, said Eric Faison, a Federal Way councilman and planning council member.

``How do you quantify that? What exactly does that mean? If we have to redo I-405 before we take housing units, I don't think that's going to go over too well.''

State forecasters say King County also should expect 300,000 new jobs, but local officials will take until July to determine how much job growth individual cities are most likely to see.

For the first time, officials have tied future job growth to housing and say they can now better plan where housing will go. And the anticipated growth won't push farther into farm country: No changes are proposed in the so-called urban-rural boundary limiting the expansion of cities.

Bigger cities are expected to get more growth -- among them Bellevue, with 10,177 new houses, condos and apartment units anticipated between now and 2022; Redmond with 9,000; and Kirkland with 5,400. For Seattle, 52,250 new homes and apartments and projected.

Smaller cities will see less change. At Hunts Point, only one new home is expected during the next two decades.

The Eastside's housing market has followed the boom in high-tech businesses and salaries.

South King County cities weren't so lucky. A less robust housing market means seven cities will have an extra 10 years to meet their 2012 targets. Federal Way will have 7,000 homes taken off its planning plate.

``Thankfully,'' Councilman Faison said.

Federal Way incorporated in 1990, and its growth numbers have been based on a population surge that hasn't repeated itself. Instead of planning for 13,000 new homes, Federal Way officials are now planning for fewer than 6,200.

``We would have had to rezone half of the single-family homes in our city to multifamily to accommodate that additional growth,'' Faison said.

Instead of 20,000 new Boeing jobs, there are 10,000 fewer, said Steve Lancaster, Tukwila's planning director. As a result, Tukwila's 2022 target is now about 2,000 homes fewer than what had been expected by 2012.

Once the Growth Management Planning Council approves the housing targets, the figures go to the King County Council for approval. Then cities have 90 days to accept or veto the targets. Ratification of the county plan requires at least 30 percent of the cities representing 70 percent of the population.

The goal is to complete the process by year's end.

Jeff Switzer can be reached at or 425-453-4234.


In 1994, King County officials planned for 188,000 homes through 2012. So far, 68,000 homes, condos and apartments have been built, leaving as many as 120,000 anticipated during the next decade.

Planners are now adding another 10 years of growth to that figure, creating a new 20-year target for the county of nearly 152,000 homes. The housing market differs city by city, as do the number of new jobs planners forecast.

* The Eastside saw 25,665 new homes built since 1993, more than half of its 20-year housing target.

* South King County cities saw 22,959 new homes built since 1993, less than one-third of their housing target, but that area has more people, on average, living in each home.

* Rural cities saw 3,265 new homes since 1993, 37 percent of their 2012 housing target. As proposed, the 2012 target of 8,828 homes will now become the 2022 target.

* Officials say Eastside and South King County cities have enough land through 2022 for new homes, and cities won't have to increase housing densities beyond what they allow today.

* King County has capacity for 263,000 more housing units, more than twice the capacity needed to fulfill the remainder of the 2012 housing growth target.

* King County has the capacity for nearly 600,000 more jobs within its existing Urban Growth Area, several times the 2012 target of about 110,000 jobs.


These housing-unit figures for Eastside cities are based on Census 2000 information and draft King County housing targets for 2022.

City Current 2022

Beaux Arts Village 124 +3

Bellevue 48,396 +10,117

Bothell* 12,303 +1,751

Clyde Hill 1,076 +21

Hunts Point 186 +1

Issaquah 5,195 +3,993

Kenmore 7,562 +2,325

Kirkland 21,831 +5,480

Medina 1,165 +31

Mercer Island 8,806 +1,437

Newcastle 3,117 +863

Redmond 20,248 +9,083

Sammamish 11,599 +3,842

Woodinville 3,592 +1,869

Yarrow Point 393 +28

* Includes current Snohomish County housing


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