Poulsbo discusses population, employment growth

The Poulsbo City Council and Planning Commission held a joint meeting Tuesday to discuss population and employment growth, two issues the city and wider Kitsap County are trying to plan and prepare for in coming years.

The city is required to plan for both in its 2024 Comprehensive Plan and is expected to include conversations on the growth it wants to plan for, documents say.

“This process can be described as both an art and a science,” planning and economic director Heather Wright said. “Establishing the population and its numbers is a technical exercise. The art is tailoring those numbers to fit our community. Once these numbers are established, the other Comprehensive Plan elements fall into place, such as housing, community character, transportation, land use and capital facilities. It’s a very critical first step.”

Puget Sound Regional Council forecasts that the regional population of King, Pierce, Snohomish and Kitsap population will grow to 5.8 million, representing almost 1.76 million new growth by 2050. Of that growth, 97,000 people have been allocated to Kitsap County (5.5%). PSRC predicts that the four-county region will see an employment growth of almost 1.16 million by 2050. Of that growth, 57,000 jobs have been allocated to Kitsap (5%), according to documents.

In Kitsap, High Transit Communities include Poulsbo, Port Orchard, Kingston and Bainbridge Island. Originally, Vision 2050 forecasted that those areas would grow by 34,000 people and 18,000 jobs between 2017-50. Earlier this year, Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council’s Land Use Technical Advisory Committee requested PSRC provide Kitsap County and its regional geographies recalibrated population forecasts for 2020-44. The revised forecasts are 24,368 new population and 14,728 new employment.

The land use committee began its discussions in January by reviewing past growth target allocations, growth percentage realized during the 2016-36 planning period, 2013-19 population growth and land capacity results from the 2021 Buildable Lands Report.

Population options

The recalibration is almost 10,000 less than the original 34,000.

Poulsbo has three options to consider when accepting a population allocation that is at, above or below its capacity (5,546): full capacity (no impacts on city limits and Urban Growth Area, no density considerations); less than capacity (may have to reduce UGA, more difficult to expand UGA, no density considerations); and more than capacity (increase capacity in Poulsbo and possibly UGA, density increase necessary).

Currently, the PED department is recommending full capacity for population. Capacity can be provided by implementing the city’s Housing Action Plan that will result in different housing types and more efficient use of land, documents read. Additionally, important infrastructure functional plans will likely plan for a longer planning period (50 years) and additional considerations for growth can be taken into account to ensure adequate capital facility planning and project prioritization.

“This option allows the city to retain its character, continuing to plan for growth under existing boundaries and existing zoning,” Wright said. “It allows us to prepare for more growth if desired for a community and if necessary but based on growth demand.”

Employment options

PSRC recalibrated the Kitsap employment number to 14,728, which is 3,272 less than the original 18,000 that was forecast. Poulsbo’s 2020 capacity was 3,012, and the total capacity of Kitsap HCT’s is 11,372. The result is there is less employment capacity (3,356) between the HCT’s than the city is required to absorb, according to the PED presentation.

Poulsbo has the same three options to consider when accepting an employment allocation that is at, above or below its capacity of 3,012 jobs: full capacity (retain commercial square footage, no changes necessary to UGA and city center, no density considerations); less than capacity (provides option to transition commercial to residential, no density considerations); and more than capacity (retain commercial square footage and increase incentives and capacity in commercial zones, increase to density may be necessary).

The recommendation here is for more than capacity. Staff is considering an allocation of 4,000 (capacity is 3,012). Consistent with the Commercial Land Market Analysis recommendation of 5,400 new jobs between 2017-50, Wright proposed accepting a 4,000 employment allocation (when calibrated to the 2020-2044 period).

Poulsbo’s share of jobs between the four Kitsap HCT communities between 2010-19 is 30.7%. A 4,000 job allocation represents a similar percentage (27%) share of the target of 14,728, per documents.

The city has a jobs-housing ratio of about 1.5, which is just inside what’s generally considered to be a “good” balance (0.75-1.5). The ratio is one of many variables used by city planners to examine the proportions of residents, jobs and services in urban areas and to guide development planning for efficient city plans and transit networks.

“We take what we have to, but we plan for more so we don’t get cut short,” Mayor Becky Erickson said.

Next steps include the Planning Commission’s review of elements, another joint Land Use Scenario meeting in the fall (if necessary), and ongoing public participation.