Item Coversheet
Item #2.

Staff Report: 209-22


Mayor and City Council


Eric Holmes, City Manager




Professional services for the Comprehensive Plan and Title 20 Land Use Code Update
Key Points
  • The comprehensive plan is a significant policy document that plays a major role in guiding growth and development, influences how the community looks and feels, and how it functions and operates over time. Washington’s Growth Management Act requires the City to adopt an updated plan and modify its zoning code and development standards necessary to implement the plan no later than June 30, 2025.
  • On April 4, 2022, staff outlined core components and deliverables of the proposed Comprehensive Plan scope with the City Council, and on April 12, 2022, staff reviewed the same content with the Planning Commission; feedback from these workshops was incorporated into the final scope of work utilized for the Procurement process and is reflected in the final scope attached to the professional services contract before Council for review.
  • The City issued a Request for Proposals from qualified respondents to update the City’s Comprehensive Plan and Land Use Code in accordance with requirements under state law. Three competitive proposals were submitted in response to the request.
  • City staff recommends awarding a contract to WSP in an amount not to exceed $2,705,998.30 (consists of a $2,353,042.00 overall budget plus 15% contingency) for these services.

Strategic Plan Alignment

Goal 1: Ensure our Built Environment is one of the safest, most environmentally responsible and well maintained in the Pacific Northwest


Goal 3: Create new programs that engage people of all ages, cultures, family configurations, educational backgrounds, trades and professions


Objective 3.2: Improve services available to underserved or vulnerable communities


Goal 6: Facilitate the creation of neighborhoods where residents can walk or bike to essential amenities and services


Objective 6.2: Improve amenities and services that allow residents to age in place.


Goal 7: Build on our status as the largest City on the Columbia River by strengthening connections to the river and the waterfront


Goal 8: Strengthen commercial, retail and community districts throughout the City


Objective 8.1: Make downtown Vancouver a vibrant destination for the community and the region


Objective 8.2: Strengthen neighborhood business districts


Goal 9: Build the strongest, most resilient economy in the region


Objective 9.1: Create infrastructure and policies that support job creation

Present Situation

The City of Vancouver’s comprehensive plan provides the overall long-term vision and policy direction for managing the built and natural environment in Vancouver and providing necessary public facilities to achieve that vision. The City adopted its first comprehensive plan under Washington’s Growth Management Act in 1994 (Chapter 36.70A RCW), with a major re-write occurring in 2004, and a less substantive update occurring most recently in 2011.


Since the last time the plan was updated, significant changes have occurred in the community, including increased population growth, greater diversity in the demographic and socio-economic characteristics of the community, expanded private sector investment and development activity, rising awareness of the impacts of climate change and need for immediate climate action, new technologies that have transformed how people move around the region and engage with each other, and, not least, endured a global pandemic and associated public health and economic crises that impacted all community members. In addition, Council policy priorities have evolved to place a priority emphasis on climate action, community safety, and equitable access to opportunities and resources. These trends and priorities require a re-imagining of the City’s 20-year growth and development plan and new policies and programs to meet the needs of the Vancouver community now and into the future, reflective of a target year of 2045 for fully achieving the vision outlined in the plan. The Comprehensive Plan update will establish a new community vision and a set of goals, policies, and implementation strategies to achieve it, and will ensure that Vancouver continues to meet and exceed the requirements of the State’s Growth Management Act. This effort is broken down into the following five tasks:


  • Co-Creation: Establish a process to develop and create the plan with members of the community, conduct community engagement activities in a method consistent with state law, and place an emphasis on elevating the perspectives of communities that have been historically underrepresented, excluded or negatively impacted from public decision-making processes.
  • Comprehensive Plan: Perform a holistic re-write of the existing Comprehensive Plan, that includes defining a new set of goals, objectives, policies, and overall strategy that is responsive of identified issues and needs identified during the process of co-creation with plan stakeholders and the public, while also accounting for long term trends that will affect the community in the future. The plan strategy will establish an overall land use framework that specifies where and how the City will grow and the infrastructure needs necessary to achieve that vision, as well as overall strategies related to housing, climate, environment, resiliency, community health, public facilities and services, economic development and opportunity, and achieving equitable outcomes.
  • Implementation Strategy: Develop a detailed strategy for implementing the goals, objectives, policies, and overall strategy outlined within the revised plan, including recommendations for future programs and policy work, and a public facing tool to help staff and members of the public understand how implementation of the plan is progressing over the long term;
  • Land Use Code: Modify the existing zoning code (Title 20 of the Vancouver Municipal Code) to reflect the goals and policies identified in the revised plan and achieve the community’s vision;
  • SEPA: Complete the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process in compliance with the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA);


After a competitive procurement process, the project evaluation committee selected WSP’s proposal as the best suited to address the overall nature and complexity of this work; provide solid, defensible, and useful data and analysis to support policy decisions; and establish an overall process that ensures policy outcomes are reflective of the needs of the community and delivered in an equitable manner.

  1. The selected proposal and team support an organized and strategic approach to delivering an updated Comprehensive Plan and Land Use code as outlined by the City in its Request for Proposals, and integrates and reflects the Council’s policy priorities of safety, equity and climate action.
  2. The selected proposal and team demonstrated the greatest capacity to deliver an updated Comprehensive Plan and development code that complies with the Washington State Growth Management Act (GMA) and State environmental Protection Act (SEPA), and provides expertise in communication and engagement, community visioning and technical analysis that reflects international best practices while responding to the Vancouver context and the specific issues facing this community.
  3. The selected proposal and team demonstrated the greatest capability for providing background data and various levels of analysis needed to inform policy making, particularly from a Housing, Economic, and Environmental perspective, as well as demonstrated capacity to communicate findings and takeaways in a manner that is easy and accessible to broad, non-technical audiences.


No identified disadvantages.

Budget Impact

The project costs have been anticipated and funding was included in the 2022 Spring Supplemental 2023-2024 Biennial budgets. This project scope of work is anticipated to extend beyond the 2023-2024 biennium, and the remaining additional project cost associated with scope is anticipated to be addressed with a subsequent budget request.  

Prior Council Review
  • April 4, 2022, City Council Workshop reviewing the scoping process for the project.
  • Approval of the 2022 spring supplement and 2023-2024 biennial budgets, both of which included decision packages to support the project.

Action Requested

Award a consulting services contract with WSP USA, Inc. to provide professional planning services for the Comprehensive Plan and Title 20 Land Use Code Update in the amount of $2,705,998.30 and authorize the City Manager or designee to execute the contract and authorize any legal action necessary to enforce the terms of the same.


Rebecca Kennedy, Deputy Community Development Director, 360-487-7896; Domenic Martinelli, Senior Planner, 360-487-7943


Project Scope
Project Budget
RFP 34-22