Government Affairs Monthly Update

Jamie Howsley

Jamie Howsley is a land use attorney practicing in Washington and Oregon. He has served as the BIA’s Government Affairs Director since 2011. You can reach Jamie directly via email or call 360.281.1123.

The Government Affairs Committee meets on the second Monday of the month in the BIA office at 3:30 pm.

As we review the outcome of last week’s primary election and look ahead at the general, it is important to remember that our political actions, effort and support affect the day-to-day operations of our businesses and can guide our destiny as an industry.

A case in point, highlighted below, is the recently approved Camas Urban Tree program. Although we worked with city staff to create a win-win situation, testified before the city planning commission and council, submitted letters of concern and vocalized our support for the final product, we were vastly out numbered in comments and at the hearings by community activists intent on creating a program so overreaching and encumbering that it would seriously hamper our industry’s ability to build more housing at affordable prices. It was with the understanding and support of educated commissioners and council members who sought out and approved a practical solution, rather than one promoted by those who spoke the loudest, that allowed a good compromise to be realized.

Political participation not only allows us the opportunity to support and help elect our preferred candidates, it also affords us the opportunity to educate elected officials, candidates, voters and the public on the value, needs and concerns of our industry. Educate yourself and vote; it is your right, civic obligation and the best way to help our industry prosper and create affordable housing options for Clark County.

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Camas Finalizes Urban Tree Program

On August 8, the Camas City Council voted to approve an amended version of the proposed Urban Tree Program that staff have been working on for over two years.

Although the development community had been overlooked in the initial phase of program creation, thanks to a quick shout out from Michael Odren of Olson Engineering, we were made aware of the proposal and some issues that would affect our industry. After attending the Camas Planning Commission meeting to voice our concerns of being left out of the process and with the proposal itself, we convinced the commission to hold the proposal over for more work. After a second meeting the commission forwarded the updated proposal to the council for review, where it was adopted on Monday after a staff overview and public comment.

Working with Camas City staff Sarah Fox, we were was able to get some technical language changes made that will make the new regulations consistent, understandable and more in line with our best practices.  The biggest improvement, though, was the change from a requirement of 30 Tree Units (TU), as Vancouver currently requires, to 20 TU per acre. A “Tree Unit” is a unit of measurement based upon the size of the diameter of the tree measured at the breast height (“dbh”).  (Camas Tree Unit Definition)

In addition, we worked with staff to get “net acre” defined as the developable land (land unencumbered by critical areas or buffer zones), while still allowing trees located in critical areas and buffer zones to count towards the TU per acre requirement.

The council has directed the city attorney to draft the ordinance and resolution implementing the program. It is expected to be adopted at the next City Council meeting in September.

We will be providing a more in-depth analysis when the draft ordinance is released. For more information, please contact Ryan at ryan@biaofclarkcounty.org or 360.694.0933.

Upcoming GAC Meeting

The next Government Affairs Committee meeting is Monday, September 10 at 3:30 at the BIA offices.  Please feel free to email me at jamie.howsley@jordanramis.com or Ryan Makinster at ryan@biaofclarkcounty.org if you have any issues you would like to raise.