Climate Change Adaptation through Local Comprehensive Planning: Guidance for Puget Sound Communities

This guidance was developed to support local government decision-makers, planners and community members in the Puget Sound region of Washington to better understand the implications of climate change in the area, and to further climate adaptation planning. The report includes detail on the projected climate change impacts for the region, and guidance on incorporating climate impacts and adaptation planning into local comprehensive plans. The report uses the Washington State Comprehensive Plan requirements under the Growth Management Act to inform the adoption of climate adaptation solutions within local planning elements.

The first section of the guide summarizes six primary climate change impacts for the Puget Sound region: temperature, precipitation/storminess, sea level rise, vegetation change, ocean acidification and slope stability. Table 1, Climate Change Implications for Comprehensive Plan Elements, maps these impacts to the element areas within a typical local comprehensive plan.

Section Two: Climate Change Implications for Comprehensive Plan Elements focuses on isolating the climate issues of concern for each planning element and how these issues will affect planning goals. This section is organized by local Planning Elements required by Washington including: Land Use, Water Resources, Environment, Housing, Infrastructure (inclusive of Mandatory Elements Transportation, Capital Facilities and Utilities), Economic Development, Parks and Recreation, and Social Services.

The guide includes tables of climate implications and questions to consider for integrating adaptation into each Element. For example, with Water Resources, some of the questions discussed in further detail include:

How will the many facets of climate change and our responses to it affect our drinking water supply and water budget?

If sea level were to rise, would it affect our water resources? Do current tidal ranges have an impact on coastal lands, shoreline stability, and infrastructure in the coastal zone?

Is our community dependent in whole or in part on annual snowpack levels? Does the rate of melt affect any water resources in our community (e.g., surface water levels, rate of run-off that our stormwater systems must accommodate)?

Adaptation Implementation Actions are described (see Table 10) that will support the implementation of the priority climate adaptation goals identified within the Local Comprehensive Plan once it has been adopted. The recommended actions are:

    1. Adopt a Local Comprehensive Plan that clearly links climate change implications to the interests of all local planning and policy goals.
    2. Create a Climate Change Task Force.
    3. Develop and require a Climate Assessment Certification.
    4. Integrate climate information into all decision-making processes.


Publication Date: February 2017

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