Second phase of North Shore planning underway

City of Camas will soon recruit for citizens committee

Interested in helping to shape the future of Camas’ North Shore?

The city will soon recruit members of the public for its new North Shore Citizen Committee, an ad hoc group that will help implement the city’s vision for the nearly 900-acre North Shore area.

The North Shore Vision Statement approved by the city council in late 2020 was the result of a public outreach campaign that started in August 2019 and included high school students, hundreds of community members, stakeholder groups, North Shore landowners and city officials.

The second phase of North Shore subarea planning will allow the city to create new regulations and policies that would help the area develop in a unique and community-minded way.

Of the nearly 900 acres included in the North Shore, the city of Camas owns 238 acres and the remaining 668 acres are considered private property.

Though the subarea plan will guide future development with the city’s North Shore Vision Statement — which highlights a desire to preserve the North Shore’s natural beauty and environmental health; plan a network of green spaces and recreational opportunities; make a more walkable community; provide a variety of housing options for all income levels and life stages; locate industrial parks and commercial centers away from Lacamas Lake; favor local-serving businesses; plan for needed schools and infrastructure; and strive to maintain Camas’ small town feel — former Camas senior planner Sarah Fox, who left the city on Sept. 21 for a new growth-management job with the state’s department of commerce, has long stressed that the subarea planning is not a development plan and that the city “is not a developer.”

Rather, the North Shore Subarea Plan is meant to guide the type of development community members would like to see north of the lake.

As it stands now, private property owners could develop their North Shore parcels at any time under the city’s current zoning, which would mean the area would likely be punctuated by housing developments and light-industrial business parks.

“If a company buys 400 acres and moves forward with what zoning allows them to do today, they would have the right as a landowner to move forward, (and) maybe the current codes in place aren’t super consistent with what we imagine this area to be in 20 years,” Fox explained to the council in September 2020.

Public outreach key component of North Shore Subarea Plan

The council approved a contract with WSP USA in July to create a Phase 2 plan that will likely lead to new design and zoning standards unique to the North Shore.

The subarea plan will “establish a vision for the area … and guide redevelopment and new development efforts,” according to Fox.

The consultants and city staff met Sept. 29 with stakeholders involved in the first phase of the subarea planning, including representatives from the Camas School District and the Columbia River Economic Development Council (CREDC). The next step is to form a citizen advisory committee that will likely meet for the first time in early December, Fox said.

The city has tried to have as much public involvement as possible, considering the bulk of the phase-one subarea planning took place during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There have been multiple engagement opportunities throughout this initiative,” Fox told city officials last week, listing visits to local high schools and the Camas farmers market; meeting with the Camas Youth Advisory Council; holding more than 20 interviews with stakeholders, including property owners within the North Shore area, elected officials and representatives from the Camas School District and Port of Camas-Washougal; an online survey that attracted 583 community members; a student workshop at Discovery High School to map future land-use ideas; a community forum attended by 100 community members; a second online survey with 678 participants; a community visioning workshop that attracted roughly 100 community members; and public meetings, including a public hearing before the Camas Planning Commission on Aug. 18, 2020, that forwarded the North Shore Vision Statement to the city council for its approval.

Now, the city is gearing up for more public outreach.

Fox briefed the Camas City Council on the second phase of the city’s North Shore Subarea Plan at a council workshop held Sept. 20.

“You will see a lot of work in the next few weeks,” Fox said.

The city will soon post a “North Shore” page on its interactive Engage Camas website, and is expected to begin recruiting citizens interested in being on the ad hoc citizens committee in October. The city also plans to host an online public forum on the second phase of North Shore subarea planning in January 2022.

According to a timeline Fox presented to the city council last week, consultants will work on creating draft zoning, comprehensive plan and design standards in early 2022, and will likely have a draft subarea report to city staff and officials in the spring of 2022, with a city council public hearing scheduled for July 2022.