The purpose of this title is to establish a mechanism for implementing the provisions of Chapter 36.70A RCW regarding compliance, conformity, and consistency of proposed projects with adopted comprehensive plans and development regulations. In order to achieve this purpose the City Council finds that:
(1) Given the extensive investment that public agencies and a broad spectrum of the public are making and will continue to make in comprehensive plans and development regulations, it is essential that project review start from the fundamental land use planning choices made in these plans and regulations. If the applicable regulations or plans identify the type of land use, specify residential density in urban growth areas, and identify and provide for funding of public facilities needed to serve the proposed development and site, these decisions at a minimum provide the foundation for future project review unless there is a question of code interpretation. The project review process, including the environmental review process under Chapter 43.21C RCW and the consideration of consistency, should start from this point and should not reanalyze these land use planning decisions in making a permit decision.
(2) Comprehensive plans and development regulations adopted by the City under Chapter 36.70A RCW and environmental laws and rules adopted by the state and federal governments have addressed a wide range of environmental subjects and impacts. These provisions typically require environmental studies and contain specific standards to address various impacts associated with a proposed development, such as building size and location, drainage, transportation requirements, and protection of critical areas. When the City applies these existing requirements to a proposed project, some or all of a project’s potential environmental impacts will be avoided or otherwise mitigated. Through the integrated project review process described in subsection (1) of this section, the Director will determine whether existing requirements, including the applicable regulations or plans, adequately analyze and address a project’s environmental impacts.
Project review should not require additional studies or mitigation under Chapter 43.21C RCW where existing regulations have adequately addressed a proposed project’s probable specific adverse environmental impacts.
(3) Consistency should be determined in the project review process by considering four factors found in applicable regulations or plans: The type of land use allowed; the level of development allowed, such as units per acre or other measures of density; infrastructure, such as the adequacy of public facilities and services to serve the proposed project; and the character of the proposed development, such as compliance with specific development standards. The City intends that this approach should be largely a matter of checking compliance with existing requirements for most projects, which are simple or routine, while more complex projects may require more analysis.
(4) When an applicant applies for a project permit, consistency between the proposed project and applicable regulations or plan should be determined through a project review process that integrates land use and environmental impact analysis, so that governmental and public review of the proposed project, by development regulations under Chapter 36.70A RCW, and by the environmental process under Chapter 43.21C RCW run concurrently and not separately.
(5) The project review process should address consistency between a proposed project and the applicable regulations or plan, and include:
(a) A uniform framework for the meaning of consistency;
(b) An emphasis on relying on existing requirements and adopted standards, with the use of supplemental authority as specified by Chapter 43.21C RCW to the extent that existing requirements do not adequately address a project’s specific probable adverse environmental impacts; and
(c) The identification of three basic land use planning choices as contained in PMC 4.02.040(2)(a), (2)(b), and (2)(c) made in applicable regulations or plans that, at a minimum, serve as a foundation for project review and that should not be reanalyzed during project permitting.