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Council discusses future population, employment growth
In the next 20 years, Port Orchard’s population could reach more than 20,000, along with more than 3,100 jobs in the city.
By 2035, Port Orchard and the growth area population is expected to reach more than 41,000, along with more than 5,000 new jobs, according to population and employment allocations presented to the council during the April 15 work study session.
“The population numbers were adopted by Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council (KRCC) through the framework of Vision 2040,” said development director Nick Bond. “The employment numbers haven’t yet been adopted, but are through the Vision 2040 framework and are being discussed at the KRCC at this time.”
A consultant has been hired to help with the analysis of employment allocations, Bond added.
The allocations are mandated by the Growth Management Act (GMA) and Vision 2040 through the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC).
“With the start of the Comprehensive Plan update, I thought it was a good time to talk with the council, to make sure what our responsibilities are as a city in accommodating our regional share of the growth,” Bond said.
He said when the 2016 Comprehensive Plan is finished, it must be certified by the PSRC.
“If we don’t and lose certification of our plan, we would be ineligible for federal transportation money through the PSRC,” Bond noted. “Complying with Vision 2040 is not an option, unless the city wants to give up that revenue source for its roads.”
The plan has to be in compliance with the GMA.
Bond told the council the city is going to have to take a share of the population and employment growth, which is being set through regional planning policy.
In December, the Countywide Planning Policies was ratified, which adopted the city’s population allocations.
Under the population allocation, the city must plan for adequate land capacity, infrastructure and services for an additional 8,235 residents, while the county must prepare for 6,325 in Port Orchard’s Urban Growth Area (UGA).
“It’s not necessarily going to grow by that number, but our Comprehensive Plan has identified the projects we need to support the growth and insuring we have the land to accommodate those people,” Bond said.
Bond said the city needs to show in the comprehensive plan it has enough land, infrastructure and housing units to accommodate the growth. He added that if lands in the city’s UGA are annexed, a share of the UGA population allocation would be shifted to the city.
“Annexation is not a way to solve the numbers,” said Bond.
He said in the next 20 years, the comprehensive plan needs to show how the city is going to accommodate 8,200 additional residents. About 3,500 residents would go to the McCormick development and other vacant lands the city has annexed for additional populations.
“There are areas [such as around the courthouse and along Tremont] where we need a plan for development, but there may not be the need infrastructure to support it,” Bond said.”That is a challenge we’ll have to take on.”
He said downtown can take some of the population growth, but it also has challenges such as flood plain, environmental and shoreline type issues.
In Bond’s report, an additional 6,225 units would accommodate 12,184 additional residents. To accommodate the growth, the city would need to rezone land or amend density allowances for particular zones.
“Cities are encouraged to annex their UGA,” said Bond. “In 20 years, if this growth came, to the city and UGA, we’d be a city of 41,000 people.”
Councilwoman Bek Ashby, a member of the KRCC, said when a city reaches 25,000 residents, it becomes responsible for mudslides hazards in three years.
“There are some real challenges as we grow,” Ashby said.
Bond said a county analysis, which took the parcel and zoning information available, showed the city has about 50 percent more land than is needed.
He said the KRCC directors are discussing the employment allocation, which have not been adopted, but a number has been proposed.
According to the KRCC, the allocation is 6,779 in the city and 6,918 in the UGA. In the 2010, KRCC reported there were 3,647 jobs in the city and 4,610 in the UGA.
“We have sufficient land for what they are proposing and we need to see if we have enough infrastructure,” Bond said. “We won’t have to recreate industrial zone lands.”
Bond said at the last KRCC meeting, there was a proposal to reduce the allocation in the Port Orchard UGA and shift some of the allocation to Poulsbo.
“Based on the current economics and market conditions, it probably will happen,” added Bond, asking, “But do we want the county to be forced to increase the amount of land in our UGA for employment growth?”
In Bond’s report, the city employment zone has capacity for an additional 588 jobs and 4,981 in the commercial zone. He reported there is not a lot of underdeveloped or vacant land in the city’s UGA that is zoned for industrial or commercial, and that a reduction in allocation would be appropriate.
Bond said the final allocation would come before the council for a vote in September.
If the council has questions or concerns about the allocation numbers, Bond said he can discuss them with the regional councils.