The Urbanist has joined Futurewise in its Washington Can’t Wait campaign seeking to reform the Growth Management Act (GMA) to incorporate sustainability, equity, and housing justice.
The goal is to reform the Growth Management Act (GMA) to match our state’s goals around climate action, environmental justice, housing affordability, and equity. The GMA hasn’t had a major update since it passed in 1990, and we can’t wait any longer for a tune-up.
The Evergreen State aspires to be a climate leader, but we’re not meeting the Paris Climate Accords and our climate emissions continue to creep up even though climate scientists are urging us to halve them by 2030. Housing affordability has become a statewide issue due to skyrocketing housing prices and a severe shortage of affordable housing.
Both the environmental and housing crises are racialized. Black, Indigenous, and people of color are disproportionately likely to be severely rent burdened or homeless. BIPOC communities have accumulated less housing wealth because of discrimination, and racist lending and real estate practices. These practices pushed them into neighborhoods with high levels of pollution due to proximity to highways or heavy industrial activity. Pollution is linked to higher asthma rates and COVID-19 deaths in Black and Latino communities.
The GMA did help slow down suburban sprawl, but it doesn’t do enough to promote housing justice, climate justice, and racial justice. Futurewise proposes adding three elements forcing city and county comprehensive plans to address those issues. Many jurisdictions will be doing major updates to their comprehensive m plans in 2024, so it’s crucial we act now or we’ll be kicking the can down the road on justice for another decade.
The rampant wildfires this summer yet again highlighted the need for action. If we don’t get our climate emissions and land management under control, we’ll be looking at smoky summers as a regular occurrence. The effects of climate change will fall hardest on BIPOC communities too. We don’t have the luxury of time, but we do have a progressive state legislature and governor who should seize the moment for GMA reform in 2021.
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