Helping Small Cities and Counties Thrive through On-Call Planning

The planning departments of cities and counties throughout  Washington State are constantly faced with the challenge of balancing the needs and expectations of the public they serve with the strict regulatory processes they must abide by. Performing policy planning, conducting citizen outreach, and processing zoning and other code amendments are just some of the tasks that planning staffs must juggle all while simultaneously processing a myriad of development applications that routinely cross the desk, sometimes at a dizzying speed. When you add potential COVID-related hiring freezes and budget shortages that adds additional pressure on local government planning staff. The pressure heats up even more when application volumes grow, in the environment of historically low-interest rates coupled with housing shortages. How can they survive? 

A Welcome Solution: On-Call Contracting 

Augmenting a locality’s planning staff through on-call consulting contracts is resourceful and keeps planning departments running smoothly when they are compressed. AHBL provides on-call planning services to cities and counties throughout Washington to help planning departments – and their communities - thrive. By flexibly extending the depth of department staff, we provide our clients with the ability to throttle the level of support - up or down - depending on workload and public requests.  

Our team of experienced and talented planners is large enough for us to scale our support and assign the best poised team member to ensure our clients can meet various deadlines and targets.   

We also routinely provide training and education services to local government staff on topics ranging from sustainable site design, to focused code amendments, to public engagement strategies. We’ve hosted workshops and training for more than 70 cities  to ensure that the agencies planning staff is equipped with the knowledge they need to serve their communities and meet plan and code amendment requirements of the state. 

AHBL Services 

For development application review, our services include pre-application meeting attendance and preparation, notice of application preparation, project review, SEPA environmental review, preparation of administrative decisions and staff reports to hearing examiners, and presentations before hearing examiners and city councils.   

We also provide support in long-range planning efforts including Comprehensive Plan updates and amendments, sub-area plans, a wide range of code updates, Shoreline Master Program updates, and more. 

We are currently performing project review services and/or long-range planning support for a variety of cities and counties across the state including Benton City, Black Diamond, Connell, Des Moines, DuPont, Edgewood, Franklin County, Milton, Poulsbo, Richland, Orting, and West Richland. Depending on the preferences of our clients, this work can be performed equally well either on-site or remotely. 

If your organization is being stretched to the point of breaking, contact AHBL to see if we can provide services to support you.  

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