Downtown plan attempts to align with Port Angeles code changes

Elevate PA following Planning Commission’s proposals

Elevate Port Angeles 2026 outlined its five-year strategic action plan, sections of which could work in semblance with the proposed code changes from the Port Angeles Planning Commission.

“The timing is really good. The fact that we are doing Elevate PA right now, and the city is doing their code upgrade right now is actually a pretty beneficial thing for both projects,” said Marc Abshire, executive director of the Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce.

Elevate PA’s action plan outlines issues facing the downtown corridor, such as attracting new business and visitors, visitor safety and livability.

Some sections of the action plan are closely aligned with the proposed code changes the Planning Commission has proposed.

One titled Welcoming Design considers partnering with the city to make downtown Port Angeles more comfortable for visitors and locals. A goal for the section is to work with the city to improve signage, street design and implementation as well as transform alleyways and trails to make the city more pedestrian-friendly.

“Some of this work the city has already been doing, and we are following along in this plan as a part of this team,” said Jim Haguewood with Elevate PA. “Let’s focus on this district. The city is already planning the budget and making investments. Let’s make sure it’s the right thing.”

A section titled Economic Vitality estimates that, by 2026, there will be more than 150 long-term living units in downtown Port Angeles and more than 50 living units within a three-block radius.

While they are only estimates, those metrics could well be exceeded if the code changes are put into place, the plan said.

One of the goals of this section is to develop at least 200 residential units and work with the city to identify challenges and opportunities for new housing developments, including making zoning recommendations.

“The city is currently looking at the zoning code, and we want to include in that some zoning recommendations about incentivizing that higher density or 50 new units being built within three blocks or walking distance from the downtown,” Haguewood said.

Abshire noted that both the planning commission and Elevate PA are in the beginning stages and waiting to see how they will be implemented.

“It’s really good that we are doing this at the same time,” Abshire said. “That way one doesn’t get out in front of the other. I’m really glad the code is being upgraded now as opposed to three or four years from now, after Elevate PA has already had a lot of positive changes to the downtown, then all of a sudden there’s a new code later on that could be a conflict.”

Elevate PA is also working with the same consultancy group, Makers, with both parties keeping up with the other’s plans, and avoiding potential conflicts, Abshire said.

“They’re establishing code standards and that sort of thing which the Elevate PA program will obviously take on as the design team goes forward with all their plans in the next five years,” he said. “They’ll be going along with the new code, and they’re actually welcoming it.”

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Reporter Ken Park can be reached by email at [email protected] peninsuladailynews.com.

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