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.

We invite you to join in sending a letter to state legislators during our week of action for Futurewise’s Washington Can’t Wait campaign.

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.

Contact your legislator during our Week of Action: Update the GMA for today’s challenges. Register: (Credit: Futurewise)

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.

Futurewise has a handy letter-writing tool here that makes contacting your state legislators easy. Our letter is below if you’d like to crib any notes.

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The Urbanist was founded in 2014 to examine and influence urban policies. We believe cities provide unique opportunities for addressing many of the most challenging social, environmental, and economic problems. We serve as a resource for promoting and disseminating ideas, creating community, increasing political participation, and improving the places we live.

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The irony is that the Democrats actually owe their legislative majorities to suburban sprawl, both on the state level and the federal level.

That’s because, under the urban/rural divide, smart growth only makes the blue districts even bluer, while the red districts stay red (because nothing’s changing there). It’s the replacement of rural land with suburban land that actually turns red districts blue, when enough suburban Democrats move in to outvote the rural Republicans that previously dominated there.