Port Angeles council members approve strategic plan after discussion

PORT ANGELES — The City Council has adopted a strategic plan for 2019 and 2020.

The two-page plan will “align vision, goals and objectives with specific measurable actions” that will provide direction for the next two years, Port Angeles city officials said.

“Ultimately, that document would be utilized to build the city work plan, which is a work in progress right now,” City Manager Nathan West told the council last week.

Council members voted 7-0 Jan. 15 to accept by resolution the 2019-20 strategic plan.

The three objectives in the plan are followed by specific goals, strategies and a lengthy list of actions and measures.

The main objectives are:

• Preserve long-term economic, ecological and social well-being while demonstrating innovative and desirable urban design principles.

• Build financial capacity to provide consistent, quality municipal services and infrastructure improvements.

• Exemplify excellence in government and community leadership.

The plan is available at the city’s website, www.cityofpa.us. Click on “Meetings & Agendas” and navigate to Page 149 of the City Council’s Jan. 15 agenda packet.

Before the unanimous vote, Council member Michael Merideth questioned the phrase “demonstrating innovative and desirable urban design principles” in objective No. 1.

“Who decides that?” Merideth asked.

West said the first draft of the objective contained references to somewhat dated planning concepts such as “smart growth” and “new urbanism.”

“We felt it was better to be a little bit generic with that recommendation,” West said.

“However, I think relative to urban design, we do very much want to be innovative in this community. I think that’s something [this] council cares about.

“And there’s a number of ways we can demonstrate that.

“If you follow that objective down to some of those actions,” West added, “I think you’ll see some of those actions actually put that to the test, and I think we’ll have to demonstrate innovation as we move forward with them.”

The actions and measures under objective No. 1 include a “complete streets” policy for transportation improvements that encourage safe biking, walking and transit use.

Under the “enhanced aesthetic” subsection, the plan calls for a wayfinding project, sidewalk improvements, a new sign code, park revitalization, a no-tobacco-in-city-parks ordinance, a landscape policy review and an assessment and replacement of public restrooms.

The first objective will result in a code compliance program by the end of this year, a housing needs assessment next month and a new subdivision code to encourage infill by the end of 2020, according to the plan.

“I’m going to vote to pass this resolution, but I must tell you, from my perspective, I was not really happy with the process that we went through to develop the strategic plan,” Council member Jim Moran said.

“I think what we came away with, rather than a strategic plan, is a shopping list.”

The council held a five-hour planning retreat at Peninsula College on Dec. 7 and discussed the strategic plan in a half-hour work session Dec. 18.

Moran said he would vote to support the plan because “it’s what we got, and it at least gives us some direction.”

The city paid $1,650 to facilitator Casey Reeter to develop the strategic plan, which was based on the 2017-19 plan and items discussed at the retreat.

Reeter has developed strategic plans for the city of Port Townsend, Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, Jefferson County Economic Development Corp., and several private businesses and Port Townsend nonprofits, West said in a memo to the council.

Council member Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin said he preferred specific references to urban principles such as smart growth, new urbanism and others.

“If that’s embedded in the goals and strategies, then I’m OK with taking those words out of objectives,” Schromen-Wawrin said.

“But otherwise, I feel like being specific is better than saying ‘innovative and desirable’ because desirable is not a universally-shared principle.”

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected] dailynews.com.

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