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PDFWAC 365-196-320

Providing urban services.

(1) Urban governmental services.
(a) Urban services are defined by RCW 36.70A.030 as those public services and public facilities at an intensity historically and typically provided in cities. Urban services specifically include:
(i) Sanitary sewer systems;
(ii) Storm drainage systems;
(iii) Domestic water systems;
(iv) Street cleaning services;
(v) Fire and police protection services;
(vi) Public transit services; and
(vii) Other public utilities associated with urban areas and normally not associated with rural areas.
(b) RCW 36.70A.030 defines public facilities and public services, which in addition to those defined as urban services, also include streets, roads, highways, sidewalks, street and road lighting systems, traffic signals, parks and recreational facilities, and schools, public health and environmental protection, and other governmental services.
(c) Although some of these services may be provided in rural areas, urban areas are typically served by higher capacity systems capable of providing adequate services at urban densities. Storm and sanitary sewer systems are the only services that are generally exclusively for urban growth areas. Outside of urban growth areas storm and sanitary sewer systems are appropriate in limited circumstances when necessary to protect basic public health and safety and the environment, and when such services are financially supportable at rural densities and do not permit urban development.
(d) At a minimum, adequate public facilities in urban areas should include sanitary sewer systems, and public water service from a Group A public water system under chapter 70A.120 or 70A.125 RCW because these services are usually necessary to support urban densities. The services provided must be adequate to allow development at urban densities and serve development at densities consistent with the land use element, and meet all regulatory obligations under state and federal law.
(e) If potable water demand is expected to exceed a public water system's available water rights within the 20-year planning horizon, cities and counties should develop strategies to obtain sufficient water to meet anticipated demand. Strategies may include, but are not limited to, decreasing water demand through conservation, securing additional water rights and establishing an intertie agreement with another water purveyor to purchase the necessary water.
(f) The obligation to provide urban areas with adequate public facilities is not limited to new urban areas. Counties and cities must include in their capital facilities element a plan to provide adequate public facilities to all urban areas, including those existing areas that are developed, but do not currently have a full range of urban governmental services or services necessary to support urban densities.
(g) The use of on-site sewer systems within urban growth areas may be appropriate in limited circumstances where there is no negative effect on basic public health, safety and the environment; and the use of on-site sewer systems does not preclude development at urban densities. Such circumstances may include:
(i) Use of on-site sewer systems as a transitional strategy where there is a development phasing plan in place (see WAC 365-196-330); or
(ii) To serve isolated pockets of urban land difficult to serve due to terrain, critical areas or where the benefit of providing an urban level of service is cost-prohibitive; or
(iii) Where on-site systems are the best available technology for the circumstances and are designed to serve urban densities.
(2) Appropriate providers. RCW 36.70A.110(4) states that, in general, cities are the units of government most appropriate to provide urban governmental services. However, counties, special purpose districts and private providers also provide urban services, particularly services that are regional in nature. Counties and cities should plan for a transformation of governance as urban growth areas develop, whereby annexation or incorporation occurs, and nonregional urban services provided by counties are generally transferred to cities. See WAC 365-196-305.
(3) Coordination of planning in urban growth areas.
(a) The capital facilities element and transportation element of the county or city comprehensive plan must show how adequate public facilities will be provided and by whom. If the county or city with land use authority over an area is not the provider of urban services, a process for maintaining consistency between the land use element and plans for infrastructure provision should be developed consistent with the countywide planning policies.
(b) If a city is the designated service provider outside of its municipal boundaries, the city capital facilities element must also show how urban services will be provided within their service area. This should include incorporated areas and any portion of the urban growth area that it is assigned as a service area or potential annexation area designated under RCW 36.70A.110(7). See WAC 365-196-415 for information on the capital facilities element.
(4) Level of financial certainty required when establishing urban growth areas.
(a) Any amendment to an urban growth area must be accompanied by an analysis of what capital facilities investments are necessary to ensure the provision of adequate public facilities.
(b) If new or upgraded facilities are necessary, counties and cities must amend the capital facilities and transportation elements to maintain consistency with the land use element.
(c) The amended capital facilities and transportation elements must identify those new or expanded facilities and services necessary to support development in new urban growth areas. The elements must also include cost estimates to determine the amount of funding necessary to construct needed facilities.
(d) The capital facilities and transportation elements should identify what combination of new or existing funding will be necessary to develop the needed facilities. Funding goals should be based on what can be raised by using existing resources. Use of state and federal grants should be realistic based on past trends unless the capital facilities element identifies new programs or an increased amount of available funding from state or federal sources.
(e) If funding available from existing sources is not sufficient, counties and cities should use development phasing strategies to prevent the irreversible commitment of land to urban development before adequate funding is available. Development phasing strategies are described in WAC 365-196-330. Counties and cities should then implement measures needed to close the funding gap.
(f) When considering potential changes to the urban growth area, counties should require that any proposal to expand the urban growth area must include necessary information to demonstrate an ability to provide adequate public facilities to any potential new portions of the urban growth area.
[Statutory Authority: RCW 36.70A.050 and 36.70A.190. WSR 23-08-037, § 365-196-320, filed 3/29/23, effective 4/29/23; WSR 10-03-085, § 365-196-320, filed 1/19/10, effective 2/19/10.]
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