County LogoClallam County, Washington

Clallam County Comprehensive Plan

A Plan for the Future


The Clallam County Comprehensive Plan has served as a guide for directing local land use policy and decision-making since adoption of the first plan in 1967.  The current Plan represents a vision for land use and development for the early twenty-first century, and defines the policies, programs, and actions necessary to attain this vision.

The process for creating a Comprehensive Plan requires extensive research, analysis and collaboration between many interests.  Most importantly, the Plan must reflect the needs and desires of the community.  Through the work of various committees, neighborhood meetings, regional workshops, surveys, public hearings, and other citizen involvement the Comprehensive Plan was created. 

Why Plan?

The character of Clallam County differs greatly from east to west, but all regions and localities have one characteristic in common:  change.  In order to maintain and improve the desirable qualities of the County, it is important to anticipate and plan for change.  To do so, the community must define long and short-term goals—what it wants to keep, what it wants to change, and what it wants to become—and then follow a plan.  Specific reasons to plan include:

  • Sustain our natural resource based industries.
  • Address our housing needs.
  • Protect our environmental quality.
  • Retain our rural character and lifestyles
  • Investment our public dollars wisely for new, or maintaining existing, public facilities and services.
  • Provide predictability and infrastructure to support public/private investment into our communities.

Influence of the Growth Management Act

Clallam County adopted a new Comprehensive Plan in 1995 in response to the state Growth Management Act (GMA).  The GMA enacted a new framework for land use planning and regulation.  Within this framework, a wide diversity of local visions for the future can be accommodated.  However, the GMA identifies specific goals that local comprehensive plans are to achieve and contains certain requirements that must be met.

Pursuant to the GMA, Clallam County and its cities worked together to adopt County-wide Planning Policies.  These policies address issues such as urban growth, affordable housing, economic development, and public facilities to achieve consistency between County and City Comprehensive Plans.

Contents of the Plan

The Comprehensive Plan addresses four basic questions—where are we now, where are we going, where do we want to be, and how do we get there.  These questions are applied to each of the following planning areas:

  • Land use (urban, rural and resource lands)
  • Housing (e.g., affordable housing)
  • Environment and open space
  • Historic and cultural resources
  • Economic development
  • Transportation (roads, transit, trails, air, etc.)
  • Public facilities and services

County-wide Comprehensive Plan

The objective of the County-wide Comprehensive Plan is to identify the goals and policies for those issues that are of a county-wide nature, and provide the framework for adoption of all other Plan parts.

Regional Comprehensive Plans

To reflect regional differences, the County is divided into four regional planning areas.  Each Regional Plan provides direction to implement county-wide objectives and address local issues.  A key Plan feature is the Regional Future Land Use Map, which shows the desired arrangement of urban, rural, and natural resource land uses.  A generalized version of the regional plan maps is shown on the reverse side.  Regional policies guide the type and intensity of preferred land uses within each mapped designation.

Urban Growth Areas

A fundamental goal of the GMA is that development should be directed into urban growth areas (UGA).  Key objectives of UGA's are:

  • Cost-effective provision of adequate community facilities, utilities, transportation systems, and other needed public facilities and services.
  • Reduce sprawling, low density development that impact rural character, environmental quality, and forest and agriculture industries.
  • Promote quality and affordable living environments close to jobs and shopping.

County UGA's (see map) are centered around the cities of Forks, Port Angeles, and Sequim, and the unincorporated communities of Clallam Bay-Sekiu, Carlsborg, and Joyce.  The Comprehensive Plan contains UGA goals and policies.  It also includes the cities of Forks and Sequim Comprehensive Plans for their respective unincorporated UGA's. 

Capital Facility Plans

Capital Facility Plans (CFP) serve as an extension of the Comprehensive Plan.  A CFP guides County investment in developing new, or maintaining existing, public facilities and services.  Current County CFP's include:

  • 1994 Clallam County CFP (general plan)
  • Six-Year Park & Recreation Master Plan
  • Six-Year Fairgrounds Master Plan
  • Six-Year Transportation Facility Plan
  • Carlsborg UGA Capital Facilities Plan

Plan Implementation

Implementation is the critical link between planning and positive action.  Implementation methods include:

  • County actions and decisions such as financing of capital facilities, rule-making, work program priorities, etc… are guided by the Plan.
  • Ongoing County coordination with cities, federal and state agencies, tribes, and service providers (e.g., utility, school and fire districts) to manage growth, address shared issues and goals, and provide more efficient public services.
  • Development regulations such as zoning, land division, critical area, and other land use controls are key implementation tools and must be consistent with the Comprehensive Plan. 
  • County watershed, habitat, surface and ground water quality, shoreland management, and other planning efforts further define issues and solutions related to plan goals and actions.
  • Success of the Comprehensive Plan depends greatly on the actions of everyone.  County public outreach, technical assistance, and other programs facilitate volunteer land stewardship to realize plan goals such as water quality protection, retention of open spaces, and habitat restoration.

Plan Amendment and Update

The Comprehensive Plan is subject to ongoing evaluation and periodic amendment and update.  However, since it is long-range by design, strives to provide consistency, and represents a significant investment of community time and public tax dollars, all changes require careful review.

The Comprehensive Plan contains specific approval requirements for amendments.  Opportunities for the public to review and participate in Plan amendments and updates are a key part of this process.

There are three basic types of Plan updates:

Annual Amendments

Annual changes normally consist of clarifying intent, correcting errors, amending the future land use map for a specific neighborhood or property, and/or policy revisions related to a specific subject area.  The County must consider the cumulative impacts of all proposed amendments prior to making any changes. 

The annual amendment process is generally not the appropriate time for conducting a broad evaluation or update of the Comprehensive Plan.  Plan implementation cannot be fully accomplished in the short-term.  Time is needed to appraise the Plan's effectiveness.

Seven-Year Evaluation and Update

Clallam County must review, and, if needed, revise its Comprehensive Plan and development regulations no later than December 1, 2004, and at least every seven years thereafter. This review is to ensure that the Plan and implementing regulations comply with the GMA.  Periodic review also ensures that the Plan continues to meet local needs and conditions.

Ten-Year UGA Evaluation and Update

The GMA directs the County to review, and, if needed, revise its designated UGA's every ten years  to accommodate the urban growth projected to occur in the County for the succeeding 20-year period. 

Additional Information

The information presented is intended to provide a basic overview of the contents, implementation and update of the Comprehensive Plan.  For more information, please visit or contact the:

Department of Community Development
Clallam County Courthouse
223 East Fourth Street/P.O. Box 863
Port Angeles, WA 98362-0149
(360) 417-2321; Fax:  (360) 417-2443

This information has been prepared with the assistance of funds made available through the Washington State Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development.   Last Updated: June 2002