School Concurrency Comp. Plan Application Sees Radical Transformation

The School Concurrency Comprehensive Plan Amendment Application, submitted by Councilmember Derek Young, sought to require that “school facilities… be provided prior to or concurrent with development. For school facilities, ‘concurrent with development’ means that permanent school facilities are in place having the capacity to accommodate the need resulting from the development.” The application was initially a measure unsupported by school districts, Land Use Advisory Commissions, and the MBA. Pierce County Staff was even opposed for the following reasons, as listed in their staff report prepared for the Planning Commission:

  • Existing barriers to funding new or expanded schools, aside from impact fees, are largely beyond the control of Pierce County and school districts.
  • The County may be relinquishing its land use authority to school districts because the school districts must act to meet concurrency. The school district may or may not have the ability to do that.
  • The policy would require moratoria on growth in the County where school districts use portable facilities or do not have bonds in place for permanent facilities (even in school districts that have not requested denial of projects nor indicated that they do not have capacity to accept students).
  • The policy does not recognize existing State funding mechanisms that require using portables to demonstrate need and receive construction funds for new schools. 

To view the entire initial proposal and staff report, view here:

By the special Planning Commission meeting this Wednesday, however, a new version of the Comprehensive Plan Amendment Application was provided. This version included that “adequate school facilities should be provided concurrent with need. Pierce County should employ a variety of strategies to support school districts’ ability to provide adequate school facilities including, but not limited to, school impact fees, property dedication, school supportive zoning, and development phasing/timing or other project specific mitigation.” The application also requests that advisory committee be created to review school districts’ capital facilites plans and make recommendations should capacity deficiencies be identified. (Criteria to join the committee is still unknown.) School districts and Pierce County Staff worked with Councilmember Young to create the new version, both of which are now in support. The MBA’s Legislative Strategy Committee will hear from staff on the new version of the Amendment soon.

To view the entire new proposal and staff report, view here: