Smart Growth


Livable Snohomish County Coalition

Kristin Kelly, Smart Growth Director   425-923-8625

Mission Statement:
 Working with Snohomish County local governments, the Smart Growth Program strives to achieve more livable, sustainable urban communities and protection of resource and rural lands, air and water quality and wildlife habitat through education, outreach, activism and advocacy regarding land use comprehensive planning and development regulations. 

Everett, Washington

Published: Thursday, October 9, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
Guest Commentary / County land-use planning

Steer growth to cities' urban areas where services are
By Kristin Kelly

We all deserve the opportunity to live and work in a great neighborhood where we have a chance to succeed.

But for too long, thoughtless sprawl consumed our region's farms, forests and rural areas. Middle class families were pushed to rural subdivisions, creating longer commutes with increasingly congested roads, more expensive household costs, disconnected communities and loss of open space.

Now is a pivotal moment for Snohomish County's fight against sprawl.

By 2035, Snohomish County will have a population of about 955,000. That means we'll have 200,000 new neighbors looking for jobs, homes and services. Planning wisely now about how our land will be used in 20 years is critical to successfully protect what we love about this county.

County leaders are evaluating where and how our communities will provide the homes and jobs we need to accommodate our growing population. This decision will lock us into a growth pattern that if done wrong, will have significant costs to taxpayers and households, not to mention on our land, air and water.

It's our choice whether we go the route of high-cost sprawl or low-cost compact growth. It is a choice between focusing growth in Everett, Lynnwood and other cities, or putting more subdivisions in rural areas around outlying small cities such as Sultan, next to our prime agricultural land west of I-5, outside of Arlington, and where water availability to serve rural development is questionable.

Unfortunately, special interests are pressuring the county to choose the high-cost route. They are pushing to open up more land to development, supposedly to help meet the county's increased demand for affordable housing.

Let's be honest. Placing more of our future neighbors on the outer fringes of the county will not magically create affordable housing. More houses far away from services and with higher transportation costs aren't a solution; they're part of the problem. According to analysis from the Center For Neighborhood Technology, the most affordable places to live in our region are within city limits, when transportation costs are taken into account.

Expanding community services into the non-urbanized areas of the county are a burden on existing taxpayers. Developing neighborhoods from scratch means that we, and our tax dollars, subsidize the new roads, new utility lines, new school construction, along with other public facilities and services. And the costs to our health and to future generations also increase when we don't do more to ensure clean air and water.

To lessen the impact on our wallets and environment, most new jobs and housing — including affordable housing for all income groups — should be focused in our largest cities rather than overwhelm our smallest towns and rural areas.

The county's analysis — its Buildable Lands Report — shows we don't need to pave over more land. Instead, we need to better utilize our existing urban footprint by focusing more growth in key areas of Everett and Lynnwood, our two largest cities.

With Sound Transit and Community Transit's SWIFT rapid bus line serving both communities, these cities can help meet the demand from seniors and millennials who want to use transit to get to work and live closer to basic services. Evergreen Way/Highway 99 is ripe for redevelopment to create well-designed, walkable and affordable mixed-use centers.

We need to work together to find solutions that will create more equitable communities, more local jobs and more affordable housing — and stop subsidizing poorly planned development on the urban fringe.

Sprawl is not the answer, it's the problem. Let's get this right, Snohomish County.

Kristin Kelly is Snohomish/Skagit program director for the statewide organization Futurewise, and Smart Growth director for Pilchuck Audubon Society. To find out more about both organizations, visit their websites at and

© 2014 The Daily Herald Co., Everett, WA

Smart Growth Report
October 2014 by Kristin Kelly, Director
Feast for Friends
Thank you to everyone who made this year's Feast with Friends fundraiser the most successful yet!  Over 150 people attended and the compliments on the quality of the food and wine was abundant.  The proceeds from this annual event support the work as Smart Growth Director for Pilchuck Audubon Society, and as Snohomish/Skagit Program Director for Futurewise. 
Together, these two organizations have collaborated to ensure protection of our farms, forests, rural areas, water quality, fish and wildlife habitat, smart growth planning for our cities and urban areas.  It’s a pleasure to bring together our local farmers, local wineries, local chefs, our elected officials, and all the people who work with me for the benefit people and wildlife. 
First and foremost, thank you to Snohomish Mayor Karen Guzak and Warner Blake for their kindness and generosity for the past nine years allowing us to invade their home for the event!!  These two people are the epitome of community, activism, and the pursuit of a brighter tomorrow.
This year we had eight outstanding chefs, competing for a Top Chef Award, which was determined by popular vote by the guests.  This year’s winner was a new restaurant located along in the City of Snohomish---Roger’s Riverview Bistro--with his “Roger’s Clams.”  Thank you Roger and congratulations.
The other chefs also provided fabulous food, and the vote for Top Chef was very, very close.  Thank you for all the hard work to:  Anne Dottai of Grilla Bites for her Gazpacho and Grilled Mixed Vegetables; Joshua Delgado and Chris Feller of The Kitchen Table for their wonderful twist on Bacon and Eggs; Christine Jones for her gluten-free menu of Vegetarian Lasagna with Bechamel Sauce, Garden Salad with Asian Vinaigrette, and Lemon Crème with Fresh Blackberries; Terra Kelly of The Hungry Pelican for her gluten-free Beet and Gorgonzola Bacon Cups and Carrot Cake with Lavender Cream Frosting; Andy Gibb of Andy’s Fish House for his Carrot Soup and Walla Walla Sweet Onion Marmalade with Crostini;  Jeannie Callahan of Trail’s End Restaurant for her Trio of Rabbit, Crab and Mushroom Raviolis; and Dana Daniel for her Rabbit Terrine and Grape and Walnut Compote.
All of these great dishes were supplied with fresh product from our wonderful local farmers and other producers and businesses, working hard everyday to keep farming the future of Snohomish County:  our farmers this year were: Dayville Hay and Grain, Bailey's Vegetables, Craven Farm, National Food Corporation, Hayton Farms, Chinook Farms, Red Barn Community Farm, Farmer Frog,  Sno-Country Farm, Sprocket Free Range Farm, Skipley Farm, Darigold, Taylor Shellfish Farm, Garden Treasures, Caruso Farm, J&S Homestead, Taylor Shellfish Farm, and Snohomish Bakery Creations.
And all the great food complimented by some outstanding local wineries…which all do wine tastings: Cedar Ridge Winery, Patterson Cellars, Dubindil Winery, Van Camp Cellars, and Badger Mountain Winery, and Rock Skip Distillers for their tastings of liqueurs and flavored vodka.
And of course, thanks to my sponsors and volunteers!!!
Hope to see you there next year!!!


Snohomish County Tree Conservation Ordinance


Everett Waterfront Development Project

The Smart Growth Campaign, which trains and empowers local citizens to work for better growth management, is an integral force in Snohomish County's growth managment dialogue. Smart Growth works hard to stem the consequences of irresponsible development, and to ensure that sensitive areas and wildlife habitat maintain a high profile in growth management debates.

Snohomish County is home to some of the most productive forest and farmland, and diverse fish and wildlife habitat of anywhere in the United States. Snohomish County’s shorelines are among the most valuable and fragile of Washington’s natural resources. Native fish, birds, wildlife and the lake, estuarine, and riparian ecosystems that support them, depend on strong critical area and shoreline protections.

Snohomish County is now home to over 700,000 residents and the prediction is that by the year 2025, this county will grow to 950,000 people. In fact, over the past decade, Snohomish County has grown by 30 percent, outstripping Washington’s overall population growth by almost 50 percent. Salmon habitat, farmland, and open space in our densely populated urban areas are being converted to housing developments and shopping malls at alarming rates. The effects of this growth is impacting our urban neighborhoods; the increase of large rural cluster developments are forever changing the rural landscape; and the pressure to build a new city of 15,000 people out in the pristine rural areas that lack adequate infrastructure is real. The increase in impervious surfaces from roads and rooftops has led to more run-off and pollution of our streams and rivers and lakes, and the loss of wildlife habitat still continues despite some good efforts.

Rapid growth is a threat to the sustainability of our natural resources and rural lands, and will continue to greatly impact our wildlife and their habitats if Snohomish County’s planning process and regulations do not address protections of these areas adequately. As pressures from the development community grows to expand urban growth areas, to allow for more development in our sensitive areas, to rezone open space, forest and farm land into homes, we must be there to educate citizens and help them be involved in the public process to ensure their quality of life.
Pilchuck Audubon Society is part of a larger coalition of organizations, groups and individuals who will be working toward positive change in Snohomish County in order to have more livable communities and protect our environment. The coalition is currently named the Livable Snohomish County Coalition. If you would like to be more involved, please join our coalition to work on a proactive agenda for our future. For more details, contact Kristin Kelly at 425.923.8625 or e-mail

For a list of current activities, please click here to be directed to my Futurewise webpage. This list is updated every week, so visit this site for the latest information.