Accommodating Growth or Enabling Sprawl? The Role of Population Growth Projections in Comprehensive Planning Under the Washington State Growth Management Act

Brent D. Lloyd, Accomodating Growth or Enabling Sprawl? The Role of Population Growth Under the Washington State Growth Management Act, 36 Gonz. L. Rev. 73 (2001).

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The character of a region is defined in large part by the number of people that live there. Densely populated urban areas like Manhattan, and to a lesser extent, Seattle, are conducive to different lifestyles than rural areas like Western Washington’s Skagit Valley, famous for its annual Tulip Festival, or the small Central Washington community of Roslyn, where the TV show Northern Exposure was set and where the state’s oldest neighborhood tavern, The Brick still pours microbrew. Perhaps more so than any other state, Washington contains ideal settings for both urban and rural lifestyles. One need only drive for half an hour from Seattle, birthplace of Starbucks, “grunge rock,” and some of the worst traffic conditions anywhere, to reach Snoqualmie-a Central Washington town of less than 4,000 people located near the foot of the Cascade Mountain Range, on the banks of a river bearing its name.

Along with a booming economy[1] and a natural environment of renowned splendor,[2] this wide range of lifestyle options is no doubt one of the reasons that Washington State was among the top three fastest growing regions in the country during the 1980s and 1990s.[3] While the record growth of the last decade has slowed a bit, the new century is sure to witness dramatic increases in Washington’s population.[4] The attendant demands of a rapidly expanding population on growth management are great, requiring new ways of using a fixed (or shrinking) supply of resources to serve a constantly increasing number of residents. Providing more and more people with sufficient utility service-power, water, gas, and sewage-in addition to adequate transportation and housing infrastructures is among the most significant challenges facing Washington’s planners and elected officials.[5]… Read More

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