HIP Tool: Planned Action EIS

An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is a report prepared by counties or cities in accordance with the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPARCW 43.21c) and SEPA rules (WAC 197-11). An EIS provides information about environmental conditions, potential impacts, and mitigation measures related to a development proposal or legislation. The goal of a planned action EIS is to simplify and expedite environmental review of future individual projects in a study area. Detailed and comprehensive environmental analysis occurs upfront during the planning stage for a study area, thereby streamlining the permit review process and reducing or eliminating the possibility of legal challenges to individual projects within the study area. A planned action EIS can reduce the overall costs for project developers, which may translate into lower final housing costs. It can also help to attract growth to a priority planning area of a community.


Background

An EIS is prepared for a site-specific project or a non-project legislative action, such as plans, ordinances or regulations, if the jurisdiction believes the proposal may have a significant environmental impact. The EIS identifies and describes: the proposed action and alternatives; existing conditions of the built and natural environment; impacts that may occur if the proposed action or an alternative action were implemented; mitigation measures to reduce or eliminate impacts; and impacts found to be significant, unavoidable, and adverse (residual impacts despite mitigation measures).

A planned action EIS can help facilitate development, including housing, which may in turn reduce permitting costs and streamline efforts to achieve the community’s housing goals.

The basic steps in designating planned action projects are to prepare an EIS, designate the planned action projects by ordinance, and review permit applications for projects. The intent is to provide more detailed environmental analysis during formulation of planning proposals, rather than at the project permit review stage. A planned action designation shows that adequate environmental review has been completed. It also means that further environmental review under SEPA, for each specific development proposal or phase, will not be necessary if it is determined that each proposal or phase is consistent with the planned action ordinance. Planned actions are not subject to SEPA appeal procedures. This means housing proposals within a designated planned action area can proceed through the permit review process with less time and cost, as well as without concern that the environmental analysis will be appealed.

Tool Profile

Focus Areas

  • Urban Centers
  • Transit Oriented Development
  • Expensive Housing Markets

Project Types

  • Multifamily
  • Ownership
  • Rental
  • Market Rate

Affordability Level

  • 80% to 120% AMI

Housing Goal

  • Diversity