Camas preps for long-term planning project

$1.2M consultant contract includes comprehensive plan update, downtown subarea plan, climate change planning

timestamp icon
category icon Latest News, News
A sign welcomes visitors to downtown Camas in 2022. The city of Camas is undertaking a subarea plan for the downtown area. (Contributed photo courtesy of Downtown Camas Association)

The city of Camas is gearing up for an extensive planning project that will include a comprehensive plan update, climate change goals and subarea planning in the city’s historic downtown.

“This is going to be led by the community,” Camas Community Development Director Alan Peters told Camas City Council members Monday, Sept. 18, during the Council’s workshop. “The community will have a lot of opportunities to participate.”

Peters submitted a $1.2 million consultant agreement with WSP USA, SERA Architects, 3J Consulting, DKS and EcoNorthwest for project management tasks associated with the city’s downtown subarea plan, climate planning now required by the state of Washington, and a comprehensive plan update that will build on the city’s Camas 2035 plan the Council adopted in 2016 and develop goals and policies to meet the community’s housing needs and comply with the state’s Growth Management Act requirements.

“Camas 2035 was adopted in 2016. Since then, there has been a lot of new growth and changes at the city and state level,” Peters said Monday, adding that the comprehensive plan update, which is due to the state by 2025, will help Camas leaders plan for growth through 2045.

“This plan is specifically for future growth in residences as well as jobs,” Peters said. “It will establish a blueprint for the city’s growth over the next 20 years.”

Newly passed state legislation also requires Washington cities to plan for climate change by establishing policies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the city level and planning for resilience in the face of an increasingly warm climate that is expected to cause more flooding, droughts, extreme heat and other weather-related disasters in the coming decades.

“Climate planning isn’t something we thought we’d be doing, but it is something that the state requires now,” Peters said.

The community development director said the $1.2 million proposed consultant contract includes three main tasks:

• A comprehensive plan update, which will include the formation of two advisory committees and be “guided by community-wide participation in a variety of formats and locations.”

The comprehensive plan will include sections devoted to community character, land use, housing, natural environment, climate, transportation, public facilities and services and economic development.

“The Community Character element will be a new addition to the comprehensive plan and will describe the key characteristics of the built and natural environment that make Camas feel like Camas.,” Peters stated in his report to the Council. “The purpose of this element is to establish the sense of place that should be retained and created through new development over the planning horizon. This may include retaining the “small town feel” that makes Camas a unique place to live and work, open spaces and tree coverage, and supporting livability through thoughtful design.”

The housing portion of the comprehensive plan update, he added, will “result in goals, policies and code update to meet housing needs of the whole community and comply with new (state) requirements included in House Bill 1110 and House Bill 1220.”

The comprehensive plan update portion of the contract is expected to cost $606,955, which will be partially funded by two Washington State Department of Commerce grants totaling $200,000.

• Downtown subarea planning that will — much like the city’s recently completed North Shore Subarea Plan — guide future development in a very specific part of the city, in this case the historical downtown area.

“The subarea plan will include direction for sub-districts, land use and density, connectivity and mobility systems, potential development sites, gateways and activity centers,” Peters stated in his report to the Council. “The team will also prepare updated code language and a new Downtown Design Manual that implements the recommendations included in the subarea plan. The plan will also provide input into the overall comprehensive plan’s land use scenarios.”

The downtown subarea plan work, which also includes significant public outreach, will cost $424,986. The Council included funds for the downtown subarea plan in the city’s 2023-24 biennial budget.

• Climate planning to be included in the city’s comprehensive plan.

“Under the new (state) requirements, localities must add a climate change and resiliency element to comprehensive plans. This element must include an emissions reduction sub-element and a resiliency sub-element,” Peters stated in his report to the Council. “The City will also be coordinating with Clark County and other cities in Clark County on countywide planning policies and on existing conditions analyses. A city climate policy advisory team will be established to assist with the development of the new climate change and resiliency element.”

Peters said the cost of the climate planning is $169,258, and that the state has given the city a grant for up to $500,000 for climate planning “over the next several years.”

“A portion of this award will be used to develop a climate element in the updated comprehensive plan and the City will reserve the remainder of this award for future implementation activities,” Peters said Monday.

On Monday, several Council members thanked Peters for his thorough presentation and information he’d included in the councilors’ workshop packets.

“The packet was wonderful and answered a lot of my questions,” Councilwoman Bonnie Carter told Peters Monday. “It’s exciting to see that we’ll get some solid plans moving forward on these projects.”

The consultants have included community outreach — with planned in-person meetings, advisory committees and online surveys — for all three of the project’s main elements: comprehensive planning, climate planning and the downtown subarea plan.

Councilman Tim Hein noted that around 25% of the $1.2 million contract seemed to be going toward community outreach and public involvement.

“Yes,” Peters said. “We know there’s a real appetite for (public) involvement with these types of projects, which is why there’s more allocated for community involvement. We also know we have to be responsive to the community, which is why there are so many opportunities for the (public) to get involved.”

If the Council OKs the contract on Oct. 2, as part of the city council’s consent agenda, the consultant team will begin working on the 21-month project and estimate completion in June 2025.

“We’ll bring this back Oct. 2, for approval on the consent agenda,” Peters said, “and then we’ll get moving swiftly.”

For more information, visit and click on the agenda packets for the city council’s Sept. 18 workshop.