What is a comprehensive plan and why do we need one?

    The Comprehensive Plan is the centerpiece of local planning in the County, the framework for how our community will grow. The Comp Plan contains goals and policies guiding how the County will meet the needs of the projected population in alignment with a Vision developed by the community. The Comp Plan also contains inventories and analyses that help the County understand existing conditions and evaluate future needs.

    San Juan County's Comp Plan contains 10 elements (soon to be 11 with the addition of a climate element currently in progress):

    1. Governance
    2. Land Use
    3. Shoreline Master Program (not part of Comp Plan update)
    4. Water Resources
    5. Housing 
    6. Transportation 
    7. Capital Facilities
    8. Utilities
    9. Historic and Archaeological Preservation
    10. Economic Development
    11. Climate (new element in progress)

    What is the purpose of the periodic update?

    There are three primary purposes of a periodic update:  

    •  Review plan and regulations and bring them up to date with any relevant changes to state law, including the Growth Management Act (GMA); 
    •  Respond to changes in land use and population; and
    •  Address any local preferences or needs.

    When was the Comp Plan last updated?

    San Juan County adopted its last periodic update in November 2022 by Ordinance 20-2022 (exhibits HERE). The last Comp Plan update included significant revision of the entire plan, and incorporated hundreds of hours of work from committees, the Planning Commission and the County Council. It also incorporated public feedback from engagement events, surveys, written and oral comments, and testimony at public hearings. The Comp Plan adopted in 2022 is available HERE.

    What new Washington State laws pertain to the Comp Plan periodic update?

    Since the County's last periodic update, the state has passed a number of bills pertaining to the GMA. During the 2025 periodic update, the County will work to ensure the Comp Plan is consistent with new legislation. Key bills include:

    • HB 1220 – instructs local governments to plan and accommodate for housing affordable to all income levels.
    • HB 1181 – adds a new element related to climate change and resiliency
    • SB 5275 allows more options for development and redevelopment inside Limited Areas of More Intense Rural Development (LAMIRDs).
    • HB 1241 – changes the periodic update cycle from every eight years to every ten years. A progress report will be due every five years.
    • HB 1717 – requires that local governments collaborate and coordinate with federally recognized tribes for participation in the planning process under the GMA. 

    Who is responsible for updating the Comp Plan?

    The San Juan County Department of Community Development (DCD) is leading the development of the Comp Plan update with support from a consultant team and in conjunction with the Planning Commission. Multiple County departments will contribute to the update. The County will coordinate with local governmental agencies, service providers, and community organizations to gather the latest information and understand priorities. The public is encouraged to participate in engagement opportunities, submit comments, and make requests throughout the process. The County Council will guide policy priorities and, in the end, approve and adopt the Comp Plan update ordinance.