The purpose of the Open Space, Parks and Recreation component of this element is to classify, protect, and enhance open space lands and parks and to link them into a Countywide network. Because open space is essential to the rural character of Jefferson County, this element proposes strategies to achieve a balance between open space preservation and land development and use activities, consistent with the requirements of the Growth Management Act.

Recognizing the significance of parks and recreation to the quality of life in Jefferson County, this element develops strategies to meet the demand for these facilities and services, consistent with capital planning goals and policies and the Jefferson County Parks, Recreation & Open Space Plan.

The purpose of the Historic Preservation component of this element is to encourage the preservation of historic and prehistoric sites, structures and artifacts through designation criteria and review processes.

These are the goals related to Open Space, Parks and Recreation, and Historic Preservation in the Comp Plan:

1. Preserve and enhance the existing open space lands. Identify and develop an interconnected County-wide network of naturally occurring and planned open spaces.

2. Encourage the multiple use of open spaces and wildlife corridors.

3. Develop and maintain public park and recreational facilities that are responsive to the needs and interests of Jefferson County residents and visitors.

4. Establish and maintain a public County-wide trail system that meets the population needs and open space objectives of Jefferson County.

5. Identify and preserve historic and prehistoric sites, structures, Native American settlements, and artifacts that have value as significant cultural resources.




At one time, Jefferson County was almost entirely a resource-based economy. Our Forests, Agriculture, Aquaculture, Shellfish and Fishing are still important and must be protected and conserved so we can continue to benefit from them.

The purpose of the Natural Resource Conservation Element is to identify specific criteria, uses and development regulations to classify and protect Jefferson County’s natural resource lands.

These are the goals related to natural resource conservation in the Comp Plan:

1. Encourage the conservation of resource lands and the long-term sustainable use of natural resource-based economic activities throughout Jefferson County.

Encourage resource-based economic activities which are compatible with environmental quality.

3. Conserve and protect Forest Resource Lands for long-term economic use.

4. Minimize potential conflicts between forest management activities and land use activities within or adjacent to designated forest lands.

Encourage the continuation of forestry on lands which are not designated as commercial forest resource lands.

6. Conserve and protect Mineral Resource Lands for long-term economic use.

. Provide for mitigation of potential adverse impacts associated with mining extraction and processing operations.

8. Ensure that County mineral resource lands are restored to safe and useful condition with enhancement and mitigation of damage to the function and aesthetics of the environment and subsequent land uses.

9. Preserve water resource quality and quantity in the regulation of mineral extraction activities.

10. Conserve and protect the agricultural land base and its associated economy and lifestyle.

11. Conserve and protect aquaculture lands and associated facilities in order to ensure a long-term commercial and recreational resource base.


Essential Public and Capital facilities are those necessary to maintain a safe, clean and health community, but may be difficult to locate due to their size, noise, or other unique hazardous characteristics that could have a negative on the public. They include the airport, animal shelters, community centers, jails, fire protection, hospitals, schools, landfills, sewers, and utilities.

The purpose of the Essential Public and Capital Facilities Elements is to inventory existing facilities, determine what facilities will be needed in the future based on population projections, determine costs and how to pay for them.

These are the goals related to essential public and capital facilities in the Comp Plan:

1) The County, in cooperation with its UGAs, will utilize the following siting criteria as the basis for siting new essential public facilities or for the expansion of existing essential public facilities:

     - Proximity to major transportation routes and essential infrastructure;
     - Land use compatibility with surrounding areas;
     - Potential environmental impacts;
     - Effects on resource and critical areas;
     - Proximity to UGAs
     - Public costs and benefits including operation and maintenance;
     - Current capacity and location of equivalent facilities; and,
     - The existence, within the community, of reasonable alternatives to the proposed activity.
     - Other criteria as determined relevant to the specific essential public facility

2. Ensure the continued viability of the Jefferson County International Airport as a transportation hub.

3. Ensure continuation of the airport as a safe and efficient essential public facility.

4.  Establish appropriate Level of Service standards for public facilities. (levels of service are a way to categorized different types of facilities and identify standards of service) .

5. Implement a Six-Year Capital Facilities Concept Plan that ensures that County-owned public facilities meet the established Levels of Service.

6. Ensure that public facilities are adequate to support proposed development at the adopted Levels of Service.

7. Ensure that all capital improvements are made in conformance with the goals and policies of the other elements of the Comprehensive Plan.

8. Implement inter-local agreements with municipalities and other entities to coordinate efficient provision of public facilities consistent with the Capital Facilities Element.


Jefferson County is a rural county. The Rural Character of Jefferson County is important and must be protected. The purpose of the Land Use and Rural Element is to have goals and policies in place to guide how the land is used and developed in order to protect rural character.


These are the goals relating to the land use and rural element in the Comp Plan:

1. Ensure consistency between the Growth Management Act, the County-wide Planning Policy, this Comprehensive Plan, land use and zoning maps, the Unified Development Code, Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board decisions, other related policies and regulations, and all land use, environmental and development decisions and approvals.

2. Establish land use goals and policies in the Land Use Element of this plan that are internally consistent with and reflective of the goals and policies of all other elements of the Plan.

3. Ensure that rural residential development preserves rural character, protects rural community identity, is compatible with surrounding land uses, and minimizes infrastructure needs.

4. Establish and maintain the size and configuration of the county’s Rural Village Centers and provide for the development of appropriately scaled commercial uses.

5. Establish and maintain the location and size of the County’s Rural Crossroads to provide access to a limited range of non-residential uses.
Foster home-based businesses or cottage industries in order to provide economic and employment opportunities outside of Rural Village Centers.





A strong and diversified economy provides a high quality of life for the citizens of Jefferson County and the region. The purpose of the Economic Development Element is to provide goals and policies that promote economic development and also protect public health and safety, social services and environmental quality.

These are the goals relating to Economic Development in the Comp Plan:

  1. Make Jefferson County the best place to live, work, and conduct business by creating a diverse sustainable economy.

  2. Encourage programs aimed at providing apprenticeships, mentorships, education, job training and retraining, and skills enhancement that are responsive to the changing needs of local businesses and residents.

  3. Establish a Targeted Industry Program that promotes Jefferson County’s strengths, advantages, and potential in the following industries:
    • Health Care;                                                  • Agriculture/Aquaculture;
    Gerontology/Retirement;                                • High-Technology;
    • Marine Trades;                                               • Telecommunications;
    • Natural Resources;                                         • Value-added products;
    • Tourism (including Native, Cultural, and Agricultural); and
    • Local and Native Arts (including fine arts and crafts)

  4. Coordinate efforts with federal, state and accountable local economic development groups to promote a healthy and vibrant economic environment within Jefferson County.

  5. Provide regulatory incentives to encourage and facilitate economic opportunities within the County.

  6. Encourage and support economic development for rural and urban lands.

  7. Support human and social services necessary to encourage a strong local economy and a healthy community.

  8. Promote the development of tourist and tourist-related activities as a provider of employment and business opportunities in Jefferson County.

  9. Encourage economic development that sustains natural resources and open spaces, protects environmental quality and enhances Jefferson County’s overall quality of life.

  10. Provide, maintain and encourage phased infrastructure development that is adequate to attract and accommodate desired economic growth in areas of Jefferson County consistent with the requirements of the Growth Management Act.


Discussion: Utilities Element



Utilities include electricity, water, sewer, solid waste, phone, and cable providers, as well as transmission lines, networks, substations and cell towers, for both public and private entities.  The Public Utility District (PUD) #1 is an example of a public utility, while Olympic Water and Sewer in Port Ludlow is private. The Port Hadlock – Irondale Urban Growth Area requires a sewer and the formation of a new Utility District to manage it. 

The purpose of the Utilities Element is to help guide the review and approval of new private utility proposals, as well as reviewing and regulating utility services and facilities, both public and private.

These are the goals related to utilities in the Comp Plan:

1) Provide adequate utility capacity for future growth consistent with the requirements of the Growth Management Act.


2) Coordinate planning and provision of utility services among Jefferson County, the State of Washington, local governments, and utility service providers.


3) Minimize adverse environmental impacts of utility systems development through proper utility design, siting, regulation, ongoing monitoring, and education.


4) Identify, conserve and preserve resources, and to provide cost effective services.


5) Promote coordination of water utility planning among purveyors, government agencies, and citizens to ensure an adequate potable water system, to protect the quality of the water supply, and to conform with the Comprehensive Plan.


6) Promote sanitary sewer systems that accommodate growth, are cost effective to construct and operate, and are consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.


7) Provide solid waste facilities and programs that are efficient, and which utilize recycling to the maximum extent practicable.


8) Accommodate telecommunication technologies and service providers by allowing systems development consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.


9) Encourage conservation of electricity and accommodate efficient siting of electrical utilities infrastructure consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.

Manage surface/storm water quantity and quality consistent with comprehensive surface/storm water and watershed management plans and to minimize adverse surface/storm water impacts from development




Our Transportation infrastructure is extremely important to all aspects of our lives and includes local roads, State Highways, trails, sidewalks, bike lanes, parking lots, and transit routes.

The purpose of the Transportation Element is to analyze current conditions and plan for future use for both motorized and non-motorized vehicles, and pedestrian travel in coordination with the State Department of Transportation.

These are the goals relating to transportation in the Comp Plan:

1. Provide a safe, convenient, efficient and integrated highway and arterial system for the movement of people and goods, one that is functionally well maintained, reflects local environment, and meets the demands of the future.

2. Promote a coordinated and integrated public transportation system available to all residents, guests, and those without personal transportation options in Jefferson County.

3. Provide safe, accessible and convenient routes, trails, parking facilities, trail heads, and other amenities that promote the use of non-motorized travel in a manner that is integrated with other forms of transportation.

4. Encourage land use types, mixes, and densities that promote efficient multi-modal transportation systems.

5. Provide additional roadway aesthetic features that are consistent with surrounding land use.

6. Ensure that the transportation system in Jefferson County encourages the efficient movement of goods, services and passengers and is integrated with the statewide system.

7. Ensure that the Jefferson County Transportation Plan reflects public desire and is coordinated and consistent with the plans of state, regional, and local governments.

8. Ensure that transportation planning includes extensive opportunities for public involvement.

9. Promote demand management programs as a means of reducing traffic, minimizing environmental impacts, and optimizing existing transportation investments.

10. Provide transportation facilities and services that are energy efficient, protect and enhance the environment, and preserve the existing residential quality of life.

11. Develop a transportation improvement program that is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.


Discussion: Housing Element


The purpose of the Housing Element is to assess future needs for housing in Jefferson County by examining existing residential patterns, demographic trends and projected population growth. Based upon these identified needs, policies are recommended to encourage safe, affordable and decent housing options for all County residents, consistent with the requirements of the Growth Management Act.

These are the goals related to the Housing Element in the Comp Plan:

1. Encourage and support efforts to provide an adequate supply of housing for County residents of all income groups.

2. Promote a variety of affordable housing choices throughout the County through the use of innovative land use practices, development standards, design techniques, and building permit requirements.

3. Cooperate with the appropriate agencies to create programs aimed at conserving and improving the County’s existing housing.

4. Encourage the development of housing for people with special needs.

Discussion: Environment Element


The purpose of the Environment Element is to establish goals and policies achieve a balance between land development and use activities and environmental protection, consistent with the requirements of the Growth Management Act.

These are the goals related to the environmental element in the comp plan:

1) Manage, protect, enhance, and conserve water resources through a comprehensive watershed management program that is integrated with recovery plans for fish species proposed for listing under the ESA.

2) Protect the quality and quantity of surface and ground water resources, and enhance and restore them where they have been damaged.

3) Ensure a sustainable and safe water supply as a critical necessity for residential, economic, and environmental needs.

Preserve the long-term benefits of shoreline resources.

Allow development along shorelines which is compatible with the protection of natural processes, natural conditions, and natural functions of the shoreline environment.

Protect air quality from the adverse impacts of land use and development and improve it where it is degraded.

Protect Jefferson County’s natural heritage, including native vegetation and unique landforms.

Protect the habitability, environmental quality and natural beauty of Jefferson County from the adverse impacts of development with respect to viewsheds and noise and mitigate impacts based on the conditions.

Ensure that landslide and erosion hazard areas are appropriately designated and that measures to protect public health and safety are implemented for hazardous areas.

Minimize seismic risk to life and property on new and existing structures.

Protect flood hazard areas from development and uses that compromise the flow, storage and buffering of flood waters, normal channel functions, and fish and wildlife habitat and to minimize flood and river process risk to life and property.

Protect and enhance fish and wildlife habitat throughout Jefferson County.

Protect aquifer recharge areas from depletion of aquifer quantity or degradation of aquifer quality.

Protect and enhance wetlands in all their functions.


Thanks for jumping on board to help shape the 2018 periodic update of the Jefferson County Comprehensive Plan! Starting in summer 2016, the Department of Community Development held  outreach meetings asking Jeffersonians what was great about the county, how well the current Comprehensive Plan works, and suggest changes for the next 20-year update. We received a lot of feedback--not only from those of you active on SpeakUp, but also from those attending meetings, writing letters, filling out surveys, or hosting your own meetings with homeowner's associations or special interest groups such as the Food Policy Council. See photos from the meetings in this slideshow!

This is what we've heard.
We've read through the comments and documented what you said. Read about what folks are saying in the Public Comments and Feedback report. The extensive list of comments are available in the appendices

Thanks for inspiring us! Your feedback shows that Jeffersonians care deeply about enhancing the quality of life here, promoting a vibrant economy, sound communities, and a healthy environment. We want to hear about the outreach experience, but remember that outreach is ongoing through June 2018 when the Board of County Commissioners will deliberate the plan's approval. 

What's next? Take a look at the briefing materials memo on the Periodic Update Requirements, Guiding Principles, and current work tasks. Over the next few months, the county will be working with special groups and other jurisdictions to evaluate the current Comprehensive Plan Goals and Policies. Stay tuned for more SpeakUp discussions and forums about the work we will be doing in the next few months. If you sign up for SpeakUp, you will be invited when there is new content such as a discussion or forum.

Jefferson County is required to periodically review and update its critical areas regulations to include best available science (BAS).  Any regulations drafted by the county must protect the functions and values of critical areas as well as protect anadromous fisheries.  State rules define the types of information that can be used as BAS, and any revisions to the critical areas regulations must consider BAS.  Jefferson County has been collecting BAS documents and a report has been prepared summarizing BAS information for the county.  This report is available from the DCD homepage. 

Jefferson County is currently in the process of revising critical areas regulations language to comply with the BAS requirement.  DCD will be discussing the draft revisions at Planning Commission meetings . You are welcome to attend these meetings to learn more about the revisions. In summary, critical area regulations should continue to reflect local conditions in the county, while also complying with Growth Management Act requirements.