Planning the Pacific Northwest

By Jill Sterrett, FAICP, Connie Ozawa, Dennis Ryan, Ethan Seltzer, Jan Whittington

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The Pacific Northwest is green to the extreme. Yet a day trip can go from pristine wilderness to downtown Seattle, Portland, or Vancouver. How are these commercial and cultural hot spots keeping nature and growth in balance — and what's coming next? Trace the path from forests and fish to bikes and brews in a tale of three cities leading the way to smart growth.

Planning the Pacific Northwest continues the APA Planners Press series on how planning shapes major American cities. The series also includes Planning Atlanta, Planning Chicago, and Planning Los Angeles.


Introduction and Chapter 1 (pdf)

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FREE!Planning the Pacific Northwest” session recorded at APA’s 2015 National Planning Conference in Seattle. CM | 1.25

APA’s video interview with Ethan Seltzer and Dennis Ryan

About the Editors

Jill Sterrett, FAICP, is an affiliate instructor with the Department of Urban Design and Planning at the University of Washington. She is principal of Sterrett Consulting, LLC.

Connie Ozawa is director of and professor in the School of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State University. She also directs the PSU-China Innovations in Urbanization Program.

Dennis Ryan was the founding director of the Urban Design Program at the University of Washington. He continues to teach part time and practices environmental design in the San Juan Islands.

Ethan Seltzer is a professor in the School of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State University, which he earlier directed. He also was the founding director of Portland State University's Institute of Portland Metropolitan Studies.

Jan Whittington is an assistant professor of urban design and planning, as well as the associate director of the Center for Information Assurance and Cybersecurity, at the University of Washington.

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Page Count
Date Published
April 1, 2015
APA Planners Press

Table of Contents



Introduction: A Glimmer in the Eye: Planning for a New Northwest

Cascadia Region Context & Challenges

Section 1. Planning Retrospective—From Timber to Technology


1. Eclectic Cascadia
2. The Evolution of Washington State's Growth Management Law
3. Taming the 'Shameless Threat': Farmland Protections and Corralling Sprawl in Oregon
4. A Historical Perspective on the Metropolitan Portland Urban Growth Boundary
5. Protecting Working Farm and Forest Landscapes: How Do Oregon and Washington Compare?
6. Implementing State, Regional, and Local Housing Diversity Policy Through Master Planning
7. Implementing Oregon's Transportation Planning Rule
8. Seattle Neighborhood Planning
9. Designing Seattle: The Role of Urban Design in the City's Evolution: 1970 to 2020
10. Seattle's Past at Present: Local Approaches to Historic Preservation
11. The Emerald and the Rose: Open Space Planning in Metropolitan Seattle and Portland
12. There's No Place like Home

Section 2. Planning Today: Green to the Extreme
13. Native Currents and Coast Salish Planning
14. Harmonizing the Natural and Built Environment on the Coast of the Salish Sea
15. Planning Without Borders in Cascadia
16. Building Balanced Communities: Equity and Inclusion
17. Blue-Green to the Extreme in Portland and Seattle
18. The Columbia River: Community Participation and Science-Based Planning
19. The Cloud Beneath the Clouds
20. A Bicycling Haven
21. Energy Efficiency the Cascadia Way
22. From Table to Tank: Biodiesel in Washington
23. Process Makes Perfect? Replacing the Great Alaskan Way Viaduct
24. Preserving Seattle Grunge in the Pike/Pine Neighborhood
25. A Tale of Three Cities on the Road to Smart Green Growth
26. Ecological Repair and Neighborhood Revitalization: The Foster Floodplain Natural Area

Section 3. Planning Prospective: What's Next?
27. Redefining Planning in Cascadia
28. Car Spaces into People Places
29. Lights On or Off? Hydropower in a Changing Climate
30. Planning for Greenhouse Gas Reduction: An Oregon Perspective
31. Shifting Baselines: Dam Removal and the Evolution of Environmental Ethics in the Pacific Northwest
32. InterAction!
33. Portland's Artisan Economy—Beyond the Myth of Romantic Localism
34. A Decade of Food Systems Planning in the Central Puget Sound
35. Cart Blanche: Pacific Northwest Street Food
36. Growing Transit Communities
37. The Happiness Factor
38. Green Infrastructure Mashup in the Emerald City
39. Solar in the Rainy City
40. Game-Changing Perspectives on Planning

Conclusion: Planning in the Pacific Northwest






"The Northwest has a unique culture and history of planning, with many lessons that can be learned from it. Planning the Pacific Northwest provides a fresh and insightful understanding of the foresight and commitment (and luck!) that led this 'living laboratory of good planning' to the levels of success it now enjoys as the model for today's smart growth and environmental stewardship movements."
— David M. Siegel, FAICP, Senior Project Manager, Leland Consulting Group

In Planning in the Pacific Northwest, Sterrett et al. have captured the essence of how planners have balanced dynamic interests to make our corner of the country unique. Where else can you ski in the majestic Cascade Mountains during the day and then be home in time to catch dinner and a show in a vibrant 24-hour city? Learn how Northwest planners are tackling the emerging issues of our century and adapt the best ideas for use in your region."
Karen Wolf, AICP, Senior Policy Analyst, King County, Washington

"For anyone who has ever wondered what is different about planning in the Pacific Northwest, or Cascadia, this book is a must read. Local planning experts, writing about a region they love, acknowledge that even in Cascadia, planning takes time, hard work, and is continually evolving. The book carefully examines the region's planning history, current sustainability initiatives, and the challenges and opportunities ahead. It is exciting to see firsthand what planning looks like in a region where planners expect 'planning to make change,' and planning is taken seriously.
— Christina D. Rosan, Assistant Professor and Director of Environmental Studies Major, Department of Geography and Urban Studies, Temple University

"Oregon and Washington share vast publicly owned lands, highly productive privately owned farms and forests, and rapid growth. Not too long ago, both could have chosen sprawl over preservation of private working landscapes, shores, and other open spaces. They chose instead efficient management of growth leading to a higher quality of life than the alternative. Planning the Pacific Northwest compares and contrasts different approaches used to achieve common goals."
— Arthur C. Nelson, FAICP, Professor of Planning and Real Estate Development, University of Arizona, and coauthor of Megapolitan America